Many people can have intrusive thoughts or engage in seemingly meaningless ritualistic behavior in different periods of their lives, especially when they are under high levels of stress and tension. For some people however, these intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviours can lead to a life of quiet desperation and suffering when these thoughts and compulsions become unbearable and unmanageable in their lives.
This psychical disturbance is commonly known as OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder and can cause a tremendous amount of suffering in a person’s life. In this short article, we will be looking at some but not all of the important aspects in obsessive-compulsive disorder and how counselling and psychotherapy can help with this potentially life-devastating affliction.
What are Obsessions and Compulsions?
Obsessions are classified as a disturbance in mental activity and are described as intrusive thoughts, images or impulses that the subject attempts to avoid, suppress or eliminate out of their minds by any means possible because of the content of the intrusive thoughts and/or images. The individual who has these intrusive thoughts or urges are particularly disturbed by these thoughts or images because of the content of what these thoughts are, which sometimes have common themes around ideas regarding sexuality or aggression that the individual finds particularly disturbing, out of character or finds them foreign to who they are.
Compulsions can either be in the realms of thoughts and behaviors or sometimes both. Compulsions are usually thoughts or actions that can form into a ritualistic or ceremonial fashion that are used to try to suppress or eliminate the intrusive thoughts, images or urges that appear foreign to the individual. Much like the obsessional thoughts, compulsions can sometimes appear to the individual as meaningless, disturbing or completely nonsensical. Although these ritualized ways of thinking or behaviors may make no sense to them, they feel powerfully compelled to continue the compulsive thoughts or behaviors because the anxiety produced by not doing them may be overwhelming to them.
Why Do Some People Develop OCD?
As you may have noted by the previous section, compulsions appear as a defensive reaction to the intrusive thoughts that are disturbing and foreign to the person. So the question of why some people develop OCD and some others don’t is a difficult question to answer as a generalization that applies to everyone with this disorder.
This question of why some people develop OCD and others don’t must been seen as a question that is specific to the individual suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder. Although we are able to categorize symptomatic forms of behaviors that warrant the title of OCD, the thoughts and behaviors of the individual suffering from this will be highly specific to them and to their personal history, which would have a bearing on the significance on their development of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
How Counselling & Psychotherapy Can Help
Counselling and psychotherapy has shown to have remarkable and sustained beneficial effects for OCD, not only in the short-term relief or change from obsessional thinking and compulsive acts, but also in the long term, where the intrusive thoughts or compulsive actions disappear completely and no longer burden the individual as the once did.
I have worked with many people who suffer from OCD and have helped them to unravel this burdensome affliction. If you or someone who may know may suffer from this, please get in touch with me via phone or email to book an appointment or I would be happy to answer any questions you may have about OCD or its treatment.
Paul Reid – Counselling & Psychotherapy