Her only hope now is to reverse the impact of her anger by visualizing her mother being perfectly healthy. The little girl knows if she can do this, and hold that picture in her mind for one full minute, the danger will have passed. The mother’s life, in the child’s view, depends on this – and it is all her fault. It was her angry feelings that endangered her mother, now she must fix the problem.
The difficulty that continues to arise is that each time she attempts to think of her mother as perfectly healthy some imperfection comes to mind. She recalls when her mother had a cold, or cut herself while cooking, or simply looked a little tired.
Who knew how hard it would be to conjure up a perfect visualization and hold it in one’s mind for a full minute?
The little girl has been trying to do this for the past hour, and it will be another hour before she feels satisfied with her efforts, and her mother’s safety is secured.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
So, what is the one thing each of the people above has in common?
They struggle with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Living with OCD-like personality qualities is often painful. Living with intense OCD, however, is more than just painful. It is life-altering. Debilitating.
Some people with extreme OCD spend several hours every day repeating specific behaviors just to win a few brief moments of relief from their overwhelming anxiety. Others end up losing relationships, being fired from their job, and becoming severely depressed due to the impact OCD has created in their life.
Whether one’s OCD is at the extreme end, or in the moderate range, it is a disorder capable of robbing one of their potentials. Left unchecked OCD will suck the joy out of life, hem you in, close off paths to growth, and leave you with a sense of chronic frustration and self-doubt.
Obviously, that won’t do. If you are reading this article you clearly want to fight back. You want to win freedom for yourself or help someone you care about to win their freedom from OCD.
Terrific. That’s what I want to help you accomplish. To start with we need to get clear about what OCD looks like. To win this battle you need to know your enemy. So, let’s get started with this first step.
Features of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Experiencing some degree of anxiety is simply a part of life. At times, however, anxiety may become so intense that it begins to heavily weigh on you. This type of extreme anxiety can take many forms, showing up in a variety of symptoms.
When thinking of OCD there are two main features to keep in mind:
1. Unrealistic, intrusive, and recurrent thoughts or urges that create anxiety. This is the ‘obsessive’ part of OCD.
2. Attempts to suppress these worries, urges, or thoughts by repeatedly performing some behavior, or thinking some particular thought. This is the compulsive part of OCD.
Simple, right? Let’s take a closer look and begin with examples of common ‘compulsions.’
- Excessive hand washing
- Arranging and then arranging again (and again) some set of objects
- Checking (such as returning to the house repeatedly to check that the front door is locked)
- Counting (as when someone feels the need to count the holes in the ceiling tile over and over)
- Perfectionistic rituals that include repeating the same thought or behavior over and over until it is completed ‘perfectly’
These are only a few of the many examples that could be given. The important point is to realize that the ‘obsession’ (intrusive/disturbing thought that will not go away) is responded to with some type of compulsion. The function of the compulsion is to remove the obsession and thereby bring about some relief from anxiety.
Compulsions may be thoughts or behaviors. Whatever form they take, compulsions create a horrible burden on the sufferer of OCD. They often take an enormous amount of time to perform and frequently cause great difficulties in a person’s life.