OCD is a term that gets tossed around a lot in modern culture. Many people imagine Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) to involve sparkling clean kitchens, painstaking organization, and constant self-criticism. Of course, these behaviors all exist on a spectrum. A tendency for neatness and perfectionism becomes a disorder when it can’t be managed or controlled – and when it impairs your functioning in everyday life.
When Does Perfectionism Become Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?
OCD consists of two components: obsessive thoughts & compulsive (or uncontrollable) actions. We imagine that compulsive actions must always consist of rituals that can be seen, such as constant hand-washing. Often, individuals with OCD engage in less visible compulsive behaviors—actions such as counting, praying, or mentally assessing your environment for safety, or obsessively worrying about sexual orientation or religion.
How Does OCD Develop?
Although the true roots of OCD are most likely genetic or neurochemical, the characteristic compulsions of OCD typically develop as a soothing mechanism to curb unwanted or distressing thoughts.
These intrusive (or obsessive) thoughts commonly include:
Irrational fear of committing a violent or sexual crime: murder, assault, rape, incest, pedophilia, etc.
Fear of harming yourself or others: a careless accident, such as forgetting to switch off a gas stove and unintentionally sparking a house fire
Fear of losing your sanity: paranoia about hallucinating or dissociating from reality
Fear of contamination: via germs, bodily fluids, chemicals, or disease
Fear of angering God or of going to Hell
Obsessions with perfection, balance, or symmetry
To neutralize the intensity of these obsessive thoughts, individuals with OCD develop compensatory behaviors known as compulsions. These repetitive techniques—although affording temporary relief—are ultimately ineffective at relieving long-term anxiety. In fact, over time, these compulsive rituals become so consuming that participating in the behaviors and attempting to conceal them from others generates overwhelming distress.
Common Compulsive Behaviors Include
Cleaning: repetitive hand washing or showering; avoiding dirty or “contaminated” objects
Checking: inspecting appliances to ensure all household items are switched off; checking and rechecking to confirm that each door in the house is locked
Replication: repeating a certain action until it’s execution feels perfect; tapping an item a specified number of times before permitting yourself to proceed to other activities
Mental Compulsions: counting, praying, or rehearsing conversations in your head
Although many of these thoughts and behaviors are common in individuals without OCD—for a sufferer of OCD—obsessions and compulsions are extremely time-consuming, anxiety-provoking, and functioning-inhibiting. Fortunately, help is available for managing your OCD!
How Lifeologie Can Help?
OCD is often a manageable condition. Lifeologie Counseling can help you work through, manage, and, with persistance, overcome your OCD tendencies. Contact us today to get started.