Obsessive-Compulsory Disorder (OCD)

OCD soup

Obsessions and compulsions are interconnected. Repeated and uncontrollable thoughts lead to repeated and uncontrollable actions. If you are diagnosed as suffering from “obsessive-compulsive disorder”, you have fixed ideas and feel compelled, to perform certain actions as if they were obligatory rituals.

You might feel that your mind “gets stuck” on a phrase, number, an image, an action or an idea. Then you keep repeating it over and over. For example you might wash your hands or certain part of your body many times and be excessively worried about the cleaning in general. Some might check many times if they closed a door properly, or make a ritual out of this and perform the opening and closing a door a certain number of times before entering or leaving their home. The doubt “Did I lock the door properly?”, or “did I turn off the gas?” Usually the person becomes emotionally and physically exhausted as a result of the checking, re-checking, the repetitions and the rituals.

The person might have recurrent intrusive thoughts of violent behaviour such as stabbing a love one. He tries not to think of this scary thought but the idea keeps percolating in his mind. The sight of a knife, for example, increases his fear as he doubts that he could pick it up and hurt his spouse or his children. Another doubt could be related to obscenity. One might fear to carry out a doubt such as entering a church and shouting obscenity words to God and religious figures.

The above mentioned symptoms become so severe and persistent that the person is unable to carry on their day to day activities. Curiously people suffering from obsessions and compulsions recognize that their obsessions and compulsions are irrational, and admit that they are illogical. This realization makes them even more anxious! Therefore, if a therapy, such as cognitive- behaviour approach, tries to make them understand that they behaviour is illogical and irrational; this actually could make their condition worse because it adds to their frustration.

Obsessive thoughts are not always accompanied by compulsive actions. It is possible to have obsessive thoughts but not compulsive behaviour. Likewise you could have compulsive behaviour without obsessive thoughts. However, in the majority of the cases, there is a close relationship between obsessions and compulsions.

There are also those who compulsively perform certain rituals in order to control their obsessive thoughts and doubts. For example the same person beset by intrusive thoughts of stabbing his spouse may hum a song or repeat a word or a phrase in order to banish the terrible thought.