In any literate society, numbers are one aspect that we cannot escape. They are everywhere: on the doors of houses, on the license plates of cars, on the iron the tax return …
But they are not just written. They are also in our minds, in the form of favorite numbers, which scare us or a preference for doing things like, say, making sure the front door is closed twice.
It is all part of the daily life of many people. However, there are those who seem to have taken control of their lives and have wondered: Is it okay to be obsessed with numbers?. We are trying to answer this question.
Is it okay to be obsessed with numbers or is it a problem?
Numbers are a key part of our life, no matter how much we dislike math. They are everywhere, like letters forming words. Regardless of our profession or hobbies, at some point in the day we need to see the numbers, whether it’s making a call, counting money, paying, filing the tax return, or any other activity that involves having to deal with digital aspects.
But not only are they written, but they are also on our minds. We all have some sort of behavior and thinking related to numbers. A classic example is having to check the door two or three times to make sure it is properly closed. Another might be having to buy four packs of tuna from the supermarket, not one more or one less.
Such behavior can be easily justified. Double check if the door has been closed makes sense, check that the door is properly closed. That of the tuna packets may simply be because it is believed to be the exact amount to endure for the week or until the next purchase. But let’s be honest, it’s often because we have a certain preference for these amounts. The problem is when we are not talking about two or three, but 50, 60, 130 …
It can also happen that we are obsessed with the number itself, that is, the symbol and what it represents.. In a way, it’s normal that we have a favorite number and one that we associate with bad luck, just like there are those who have a favorite color. Culture has a very strong weight behind this choice. For example, in Spain and other European countries, 13 is the number of bad luck, while 7, 9, or 11 are considered to be lucky.
Having a favorite or unlucky number isn’t a big thing, until it becomes an obsession. Avoiding both going through a door with the number 13 or wanting our phone number to carry, yes or yes, a 7 are aspects which, however slight they may seem, limit the lives of those who suffer from this obsession. What if we were invited to a house with number 13? Aren’t we going in? What do we say to the one who invited us?
Looking at these little introductory examples, it’s not hard to get a feel that by thinking of numbers, both as a symbol or by performing X number of actions, it’s normal but with some limits. If we are successful, if thinking about numbers becomes an obsession that limits our lives a lot, we have a problem. It is normal to check the door twice, this is not the case if you check everything 10 times before leaving the house. This is called arrhythmia, closely related to OCD.
OCD and arrhythmia
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive, recurring, and persistent thoughts that produce worry, apprehension, fear and agitation, as well as repetitive behaviors. Among the main characteristics of OCD are often aspects such as anxiety for hygiene, order and symmetry, closing the door twice … aspects that can be included in obsessions or compulsions.
Between the most common obsessions associated with OCD we have: fear of infecting, fear of harming others or, whether by action or inaction, hurting loved ones, obsessions with sexual content, concern for health, need for order and symmetry, excessive religiosity …
When it comes to compulsions, we may find repetitive behaviors such as washing hands or brushing teeth, opening or closing doors, touching an object with our hands, patting the ground with our feet, placing objects in a room. specific order. or check if things are as they should be (doors closed, electrical appliances unplugged …). Also in compulsions we find repetitive thoughts like praying, counting numbers or repeating words silently over and over again.
The obsession with numbers is called arrhythmia and it is, in essence, obsessive-compulsive disorder but with a particular obsession with numbers. People who suffer from this disorder have a tremendous need to explain their actions or objects in their surroundings, making sure that they have been said or behaved a number of times. It may also happen that the patient develops a complex mental system in which he assigns values or numbers to people, objects and events, compulsively seeking a relationship between them to make them coherent.
People with this disorder may perform a count which can be done aloud or quietly, and may even perform more than one simultaneous count (for example, counting street lights, red cars, and dogs). This count gives them security and in case they don’t, they might start to think something bad is going to happen., In the same row as the rest of the table of contents.
Some examples of obsession with numbers
Mentioning all cases of arrhythmia, both associated with obsessions and compulsions, would give us a list as long as the number of numbers is infinite. There are obsessions with absolutely any number, turned into all kinds of compulsions. If anything characterizes OCD, it’s that each person who suffers from it has different thoughts and pathological behaviors.And being obsessed with something as big as the numbers makes it even more different. Below we will see some examples of obsession with numbers.
1. Even and odd numbers
There seems to be a particular obsession with even and odd numbers, be seen as those of good luck while others would bring bad omens. It is usually the couples who bring good luck. One of the most common explanations is that since they are couples, they can always be split between two and that is a very good thing, according to the logic of a person obsessed with such values.
2. Preference or fear of prime numbers
Prime numbers are those that can only be divided between one and the other. Some of them are 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19 … The way these numbers are so unique can be seen as particularly beneficial or, conversely, numbers that give The bad luck.
3. Check things out with a template
In this constraint, we can find ourselves constantly checking if the doors, the lights, the alarm have been turned off … turn it on and off several times, always following the same pattern. For example, open and close the faucet using pattern 1, 2, 3, 4 (open and close; open, open and close; open, open, open and close; open, open, open, open and close), by thinking that if you don’t, something bad is going to happen.
4. Anxiety activator and deactivator number
There are cases of people associating one number with anxiety and another as some kind of “anxiolytic” for that same symptom. For example, associating the number 3 with stress and the 7 with relaxation so that, seeing the first number (going through a portal with the number 3, see a license plate with such a number …), it must say at 7 times “19 h”
5. Number that cannot be missed from day to day
Obsession with a number to be in his life. For example, being obsessed with 3, asking for a hotel room with that number or a multiple, always having 3 blocks …
6. Touch a number of times with both hands
There are people who need to touch something the same number of times with both hands when, by chance, with one of them they have rubbed something. For example, walking down the street and inadvertently touching a lamppost with your right hand. This forces the person to touch this lamp three times with the left hand and two more with the right.
7. Count the letters of words
The obsession with numbers is not exclusively with numbers. It is also extrapolated to letters, which are sometimes seen as the counterpart of numbers. For example, there are cases of people who hate a number, say 4, and avoid using a word containing so many letters, avoiding words like “love”, “sun”, “turkey” … d ‘have to replace them with “filia”, “individual” “gallinàcia” …
This can be particularly problematic if the feared number is very low. (1 to 3) because the most used words in any language are usually the shortest, including grammatical particles (for example, de, le, dans, …). Since the person cannot use them, their language can become very difficult to understand or use words and phrases that make their language very bombastic.
8. Drive at final speed on a specific number
This is particularly dangerous. The person feels the need to drive at speeds that end with the same number, or to go faster or faster than the speed limit x number of miles.
9. Count the steps
Keep counting the steps. For example, counting steps 1 to 10, By making sure that on your arrival at the destination site, you have completed step number 10 of the last count.
10. Complex mathematical operations
Some people with OCD perform really complicated arithmetic operations of any kind we can imagine just because they cross certain values.
Let’s take a clear example of this: walk down the street and see the license plate numbers of cars, add their numbers and add another operation, for example 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1, followed by the number of our number phone number and DNI, assign a value to the letter of the DNI and multiply it by the result obtained.
Looking at the numbers is quite common, but in terms of health and quality of life, it is not normal. It’s one thing to have a favorite number or to have some sort of daily fad, and it’s another to have to make bed x times, believe that thinking of number 3 will have a really bad day, or start. to do arithmetic calculations for the simple. crossed us with numbers down the street.
How? ‘Or’ What Obsessive-compulsive disorder syndromeArrhythmia is a disorder that must be treated by a professional. This can cause a high degree of interference in the daily life of the affected person, as it can waste a lot of time doing the compulsions to calm their anxiety. Also, as the disorder worsens, the person will become more and more disconnected from their surroundings, which will not understand why they have such an obsession with numbers.
- Bloch, MH; Landeros-Weisenberger, A .; Rosario, MC; Pittenger, C .; Leckman, JF (2008). “Meta-analysis of the symptom structure of obsessive-compulsive disorder.” The American Journal of Psychiatry. 165 (12): pages 1532 to 1542.
- Grant, JE (2014). Clinical practice: obsessive-compulsive disorder. The New England Journal of Medicine. 371 (7): pages 646 to 653.
- Rhéaume, J .; Freeston, MH; Dugas, MJ; Letarte, H .; Ladouceur, R. (1995). Perfectionism, responsibility and obsessive-compulsive symptoms. Behavioral research and therapy 33 (7): pages 785 to 794.