"Compulsive" and "obsessive" have become everyday words. "I'm compulsive" is how some people describe their need for neatness, punctuality, and shoes lined up in the closets. "He's so compulsive is shorthand for calling someone uptight, controlling, and not much fun. "She's obsessed with him" is a way of saying your friend is hopelessly lovesick. That is not how these words are used to describe Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or OCD, a strange and fascinating sickness of ritual and doubts run wild. OCD can begin suddenly and is usually seen as a problem as soon as it starts.
Compulsives (a term for patients who mostly ritualize) and obsessives (those who think of something over and over again) rarely have rituals or thoughts about nuetral questions or behaviors. What are their rituals about? There are several possible ways to list symptoms of OCD. All sources agree that the most common preoccupations are dirt (washing, germs, touching), checking for safety or closed spaces (closets, doors, drawers, appliances, light switches), and thoughts, often thoughts about unacceptable violent, sexual, or crude behavior.
When the thoughts and rituals of OCD are intense, the victim's work and home life disintigrate. Obsessions are persistent
, senseless, worrisome, and
often times, embarrassing, or frightening thoughts that repeat over and over in the mind in an endless loop. The automatic nature of these recurant thoughts makes them difficult for the person to ignore or restrain successfully.
The essence of a Compulsive Personality Disorder is normally found in a restricted person, who is a perfectionist to a degree that demands that others to submit to hisher way of doing things. A compulsive personality is also often indecisive and excessively devoted to work to the exclusion of pleasure. When pleasure is considered, it is something to be planned and worked for. Pleasurable activities are usually postponed and sometimes never even enjoyed. With severe compulsions, endless rituals dominate each day. Compulsions are incredibly repetitive and seemingly purposeful acts that result from the obsessions. The person performs certain acts according to certain rules or in a stereotypical way in order to prevent or avoid unsympathetic consequences. People with compulsive personalities tend to be excessively moralistic, and judgmental of themselves and others.
Senseless thoughts that recur over and over again appearing out of the blue; certain "magical" acts are repeated over and over. For some the thoughts are meaningless like numbers, one number or several, for others they are highly charged ideas-for example, "I have just killed someone." The intrusion into conscious everyday thinking of such intense, repetitive, and to the victim disgusting and alien thoughts is a dramatic and remarkable experience. You can't put them out of your mind, that's the nature of the obsessions.
Some patients are "checkers," they check lights, doors, locks-ten, twenty or a hundred times. Others spend hours producing unimportant symmetry. Shoelaces must be exactly even, eyebrows identical to eachother. A case studied by the well-known art therapist, Judith Aron Rubin, Rubin tells of a young girl named Mary, who suffers from OCD, and how she drives her fellow waitresses frantic because she goes into a tailspin if the salt and pepper she has arranged in a certain order has been moved around. All of the OCD problems have common themes: you can't trust good judgment, you can't trust your eyes that see no dirt, or really believe that the door is locked. You know you have done nothing harmful but in spite of this good sense you must go on checking and counting.
There are many, many common obsessions, of all of them the most common is called "washing" this involves the victim to have a constant feeling of conamination, dirt andor grime all over their body. The book,The Boy Who Couldn't Stop Washing by Judith L....
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