Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is one of the psychological disorders related to a strong sense of anxiety that has received the most media and popular culture attention.
Usually, the most common idea about this disorder is that it is a pathological extreme of perfectionism: a senseless tendency to want everything to be exactly where it should be. However, this is a misconception. OCD is not related to perfectionism, but to a personality trait known as responsibility.
What is obsessive-compulsive disorder?
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a psychological disorder that appears in the leading diagnostic textbooks in the world of clinical psychology and psychiatry. It is characterized by the presence of repetitive and intrusive thoughts (That is, they occur involuntarily without the person starting to think about a similar topic) which are associated with a great sense of anxiety.
This sudden and intense feeling of discomfort leads the person to perform repetitive routines in an attempt to relieve anxiety, “closing the mental circle” opened by intrusive thought through some sort of self-created ritual.
OCD may seem tribal if we assume that it is just the result of awkward thinking, but it is not; can seriously harm the person, drastically altering their mood in the medium to long term, And is associated with a greater tendency to attempt suicide (although, as the latter is a statistical phenomenon, it is not something that happens to all people with OCD).
Here is an example of someone who has developed OCD. A 25-year-old is starting a new job and believes he can practice it. However, on the first day in his place, the memory of a situation he said he was ridiculed in front of his entire high school class for not knowing how to give a good oral presentation comes to mind.
This image, coupled with the idea that perhaps many people remember this event, causes the young man to start to feel a lot of anguish and guilt, to the point of not being able to think of anything else in them. next few minutes. To “disconnect” from this feeling, he is forced to perform an action that he has learned to associate with the disappearance of anxiety and guilt: scratch your face, always following the movements, In a certain order, and in 13 series, one after the other, representing the number of years he was when this happened to him.
The relationship between OCD and low liability
Explaining, in a nutshell, that OCD is related to an excessive amount of perfectionism may be appropriate if we explain it without going into too much detail to someone who doesn’t know much about the subject. However, if we are to get a reasonably realistic idea of what it means to develop this disorder, we must reject this supposed connection between OCD and the tendency to strive for perfection.
It is true that there is a characteristic, called scruple, which is linked to a mental disorder similar to the table of contents: obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. This disorder is often confused with the previous one by the obvious resemblance of its name, but in fact it is very different.
In obsessive-compulsive personality disorder if there is a tendency towards extreme perfectionism. Specifically, people who develop it score very high on the personality trait known as Responsibility, which indicates the propensity to take charge of whatever happens as it should, even if it takes effort. In contrast, in people with OCD, the exact opposite is observed: they score very low in Responsibility, which means that they are generally more disorganized and tend not to always achieve the small goals of daily life. .
So, in obsessive-compulsive disorder, it’s not just the urge to perform “rituals” repeatedly. It’s also in what happens just before this need arises: the feeling that many aspects of life have got out of their control and are causing chaos around them.
Need help treating OCD?
Although obsessive-compulsive disorder can cause serious problems, that doesn’t mean that it can only be treated medically, through the use of mind-altering drugs. These drugs can help relieve symptoms during the worst attacks, but they do not “cure” the patient. To combat the disorder at its root, it is necessary to intervene in behavior, those patterns of behavior that keep OCD alive.
As a psychologist specializing in therapy for adults and adolescents and director of the Begoña Fernández Psychology CenterI often work with cases of obsessive-compulsive disorder, helping to undo the sequence of actions that fuel the development of this mental disorder. If you would like to see my contact details or learn more about what psychotherapy is, click here.
- Angelakis, i .; Gooding, P .; Tarrier, N .; Panagioti, M. (2015). Suicide in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of clinical psychology. Oxford, England: Pergamon Press. 39: pages 1 to 15.
- Goodman, WK; Grice, DE; Lapidus, KA; Coffey, BJ (2014). Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 37 (3): pages 257-267.
- Lubman, DI, Yücel, M., Pantelis, C. (2004). Addiction, a condition of compulsive behavior? Neuroimaging and neuropsychological evidence of inhibitory deregulation, 99 (12): p. 1491 – 502
- Miller, CH; Dawson WH (2008). Scruple Disorder: Overview and Introductory Analysis Journal of Anxiety Disorder, 22 (6): pages 1042-1058.
- Seedat, S. and Stein, DJ (2002). Hoarding in obsessive-compulsive disorder and related disorders: preliminary report of 15 cases. Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, 56 (1): pp. 17-23.