Autism or Austentism?

Our family lives with obsession.  We have a child with Autism–enough said, right?  He is obsessed with animals and tiny tiny things… like tiny beads, tiny pieces of confetti, or, well, tiny animals. 

We all have our obsessions, I have found.  Each of us, in our turn, has something that “turns us on” to the point where we can, if we let it, perseverate and obsess and just plain wallow in our chosen joy.

My husband, for instance, like most Southern men, is obsessed with Football.  My older son is obsessed with sports and SportsCenter on ESPN.  My younger son, as I mentioned, finds his joy in animals and tiny things.

And me?  Sigh…  I am not above obsession.  I have to admit that I too am obsessed.

I am obsessed with Jane Autsen. 

Persuasion, Mansfield Park, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Northanger Abby… Jane is my escape.  Through her writings she allows me to relive the decisions made in my early twenties.  She allows me to explore feelings and rationalizations and moral questions… the senses and sensibilities, I guess.  I recently took joy in reading and re-reading Pride and Prejudice to the point where I have been pondering my own parallels to Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth and even, I must add, to Mrs. Bennet.  I even added a “Which Jane Austen Character Are You” quiz on my facebook page.  This is scary. 

I believe the official diagnosis is that I am a “Janeite”.  But that seems such a plain-sounding diagnosis.  I am starting to think of it as “Austentism”.

Just how far does this go?  Well, let’s see.  I have been faithfully following the recent US Masterpiece Theater Jane Austen Revival on PBS.  I have watched the interviews with the producer and actors on  I took the “which one is your man?” quiz, also on (not telling which one I prefer :)).  I have watched just about all of the movies ever made based upon her works (my favorite?  The 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, of course, but the Bridget Jones’ Diary series is also a favorite as a “loose translation”).  I just rented “Becoming Jane” and loved the theory it presented about how Miss Jane Austen may have gained the life experience reflected in her works (such a fresh yet plausible story).  I have her books and books by authors who wrote sequels and books that tell the stories from an others’ (usually the man’s) point of view.  I have the soundtrack to the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice on my iPod.  I’ve read through (and reference)  quite often (see link in the sidebar).  I’ve looked up patterns for the dresses and accessories that were worn and referenced in her books.  I even have a book titled “Jane Austen’s Book on Manners” and have thought about getting a cookbook that is now out with recipes for things that are mentioned in her books.   Like a drug addiction, I crave them and want more. 

Forget scary – now that I am writing this all down I realize that my addiction is… REALLY scary!

If my powers of concentration were better, I’d be able to ignore the dishes (ok, I am already pretty good at ignoring the dishes), and the kids’ homework, and the latest report demand from my boss, and just submerge myself in my passion.  Perhaps that only comes in the most advanced stages of obsession… or in Autism…

Did this come on after prolonged use of Teflon coated pans heated above 450 degrees?  Vaccinations?  Mercury poisoning?  A genetic predisposition?

Can I be cured through diet?  Chelation?  ABA?  Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?  Vitamins? 

I hope not.  I’m having too much fun!  🙂


7 Responses to “Autism or Austentism?”

  1. planetross Says:

    My obsessions are short lived: usually!
    I focus on one thing for a while and then forget about it. For example: I’ll do 3 or 4 puzzles in a row and then forget about them; tape and watch all of one TV show (star trek, the prisoner, jackass, rat patrol), and then never watch them again; eat fried eggs for 6 months and then switch to scrambled eggs.

    It’s a fad, a hobby, a lark!

    I do tend to buy canned soup and macaroni a lot!
    It used to be cans of corn: niblets, not creamed corn (yuk).

    Is it obsessive?
    I like to think of it as phases.

  2. Autismville Says:

    I’m obsessed with blogs! 🙂

  3. lookingforlifeshumor Says:

    Planetross – in some ways I wish I could say that this is a phase… but alas! This has been going on for years and years with no end in sight. I am hopeless!!!

  4. Arti Says:

    Thanks for putting a name on this condition…Austentism! Welcome to the club…guess we’re all afflicted as Janeites. I think it comes on because we’ve been trapped in this dysfunctional world too long that we pines for the good, the ideal, …which we can find so readily in Jane’s novels. And, the film adaptations, yes, especially the 1995 BBC production of P&P just hook us onto Austen even more! You’re welcome to visit my blog where I’ve written many JA’s reviews…and more are coming as PBS airs Emma and S&S. Thanks for being so candid about your affliction!

    And regarding Autism, I’ve written a review on the movie Snow Cake, love to have your comment.

  5. djlott Says:

    I want the bumper sticker!!
    how about: ” I have Austentism”

  6. Sarah Says:

    I loved your humor on this subject! My husbands favorite author is Jane Austen, so when we found out we were having a boy, I let him pick the name. We are the proud parents of an amazing little boy named James Austen who happens to be Autistic. I was thrilled to find your article because it melds two great loves in our life!

  7. sandrar Says:

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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