The limits of obsessive-compulsive disorder are not always perceptible, as it is not about consuming or not consuming substances, buying or not buying this or that, taking medication or not taking it, being or not being in bed or on the sofa all day in depression, whether or not to surf the Internet for hours and hours.
It’s a matter of obsessively and compulsively seeking the “balance” in every task, in every gesture, in every reaction, in every space, in every context: at dawn, at dusk, day, night, during working hours, during periods of leisure, 24 hours of each day of the year.
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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, also known as OCD, does not present the linearity of other more evident additions, presenting, in various circumstances, a very tenuous borderline with what has become standardized as supposed normality. For example, we’ve all doubted whether we closed the car or not, and even went back to confirm. Doing it repetitively for constantly doubting whether it was in fact closed, even after having already verified that it did, is what distinguishes these common everyday episodes.
Until recently, many people saw obsessive-compulsive disorder as a craze, a “strike” or even an expression of a “mental failure”. However, nowadays it is known that this is an emotional and relational disturbance, where failure is exactly the forbidden word.
In fact, perfectionismis one of the most pronounced marks of this pathology, being in many cases the main concern of those who suffer from this disorder.
Rituals associated with endless checks, time-consuming cleaning, prolonged counts, the permanent search for an order of objects, decontaminations (almost more rigorous than those carried out in an operating room) and exacerbated restlessness with symmetry produce, beyond of extreme tiredness, a total lack of spontaneity. Relaxation is, for anyone suffering from this disturbance, an absolutely foreign concept.
In Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, there is an inversion of the scale of priorities and values and the individual starts to live, practically exclusively, to respond to such impulses. The person believes, albeit irrationally, that something tragic will happen if he does not take these actions. Impulses seem, then, to be the only solution to prevent you and reduce your anxiety.
Thus, the individual finds himself between the sword and the wall; performing the rituals exhausts him and leads to inevitable conflicts with those who confront him at this level (family or closest friends), on the other hand, not performing them triggers an unbearable anxious condition in him. Things considered simple become complicated to the impossible and situations, places, people and objects considered to cause discomfort are being avoided.
The “ritualist” remains in a constant state of alert, in order to control everything and everyone, which brings him not only excessive fatigue, but enormous frustration, because, in fact, his goal is unattainable. Furthermore, the individual has to live with a huge incomprehension regarding their behavioral dependence and is often accused of not having enough willpower to control it.
Obsessive-compulsive people are absolutely aware that the rituals they perform do not fit into a matrix of common and accepted behaviors, but they are unable to contain them, ending up having a double life that frustrates and exhausts them.
Changing the behaviors previously described is the first step in modifying the thoughts that are at their origin and the feelings that result from them and which are never positive.
Becoming aware of yourself, your addiction, the suffering caused to the family, the impairment of affective relationships caused by the disease, the spiritual and economic loss, the stagnation of your life or, worse, its decay and its real danger, can constitute starting points for a sincere request for help from the subject. Only when he really wants to be helped is it wise to intervene.
As paradoxical as it may seem, the “addict” to rituals has the privilege of having in their addition tools that can be used for their release from these rituals; it is about taking advantage of characteristics of the disease itself to mitigate it. If you learn to use them wisely, you will be able to take advantage of these singularities in most of your experiences outside of treatment. The unusual attention to every detail is one of these features.
Desensitization, which is a widely used approach in the treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, consists of gradually reducing the patient’s rituals, breaking the strong habits that he has converted into patterns. However, it is necessary to be careful to replace them with others more suitable for him and his life; from where something negative is taken, its opposite must be placed, otherwise the patient will try to fill this void with old or worse behaviors. In this procedure, the time and response capacity of each individual must be taken into account, and patience is one of the main therapeutic characteristics required.
A smile of encouragement, a look of approval, or a hug in recognition of the effort can have very positive effects on a patient who has so often felt misunderstood. Little by little, he starts to live in fact, without his life being a mere matter of survival, of pain and despair.
If the patient attends psychotherapy sessions or self-help group meetings, but then returns home, the therapeutic effect of these moments may be diluted over time.
In his “natural habitat”, which is his space of comfort, he will have a greater tendency to perform his rituals whenever challenges, annoyances, anxieties, emptiness, confusions, indecisions and discomforts of any kind arise.
In a situation of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, hospitalization works as a kind of “diet” of the compulsions that the patient feels the urge to carry out. To help with the understanding of their addiction, their self-knowledge and the discovery of healthy realities in which choice is possible, the patient performs written work, readings and other types of tasks.
The interactionwith the other members of the group in the treatment center, which may initially represent an almost insurmountable difficulty, is revealed to be very constructive in the process of overcoming the obsession.
Effectively, the security derived from mutual support and the love between everyone is transmitted to the patient in a continuous way and with constant monitoring, allowing him to unconfirm wrong beliefs and irrational fears. The patient will always have someone around; someone you can turn to, ask for advice and help.
Of course, as with any other addition, the process does not proceed in a straight line and in a continuous way to infinity. However, it’s not just the goal that counts; eventual adversities along the way, together with all the more pleasant occasions, contribute to the individual’s personal growth and will be useful for him in his future.
As time goes by, the patient becomes more and more aware of his gains. First, through your treatment colleagues – better able to recognize your changes. Then, by himself, at a stage where he acquires true self-awareness and where his self-esteem is increased.
Life takes on happier colors, shared with everyone around him, because now the subject is no longer alone and feeling like a “rare bird”, to have the freedom to fly and transmit to other human beings, in suffering, everything that was transmitted to him and experienced in the treatment center.
Classified as a mental illness, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by recurrent obsessions (such as intrusive, unwanted and uncontrollable thoughts and images) and compulsively repeated behaviors or rituals. The prevalence in the general population is 2-3%.
People with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can manifest a range of symptoms that cause tension, fear, guilt and anxiety and interfere with activities of daily living, work and relationships.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can be treated using different types of treatment, such as pharmacological therapy and psychotherapy, or both. The goal is to reduce symptoms.
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