ocdObsessions are thoughts that are persistent, intrusive and difficult ot control. Compulsions are actions and habits that a person feels driven to perform, and these, to, are usually persistent. Often difficult to stop and unwanted. The two are often associated, and are then known medically as obsessive compulsive behaviour.

Most people develop particular habits or routines at an early age. Sometimes these are based on superstitions such as touching a lucky horseshoe or always stepping over cracks in the pavement. Often they become parts of daily routine – dressing in particular order, for example. Other actions are based on safety or security, and these include repeatedly making sure that the car doors are locked before leaving it, or checking that the cooker is switched off before going out. Sometimes a particular thought or idea, such as a certain tune or a reminder to do something keeps running through the mind. Most of these thoughts and behaviour patterns are acceptable because they are not unduly worrying or disruptive in daily life; they are, in fact, fairly rational and sensible or at least harmless. However, in some people, thoughts and actions get exaggerated and out of control, and become a problem. In those cases, obsessive – compulsive behaviour is associated with strong feelings of anxiety. The anxiety may be based on a fear that something bad or untoward will happen if the thoughts and actions are not carried through. The sufferer may think that if he fails to keep himself and his house scrupulously clean, it will catch some infection or disease. He may feel compelled to wash his hands, body, clothes and all surfaces in the house repeatedly and thoroughly. The fear or anxiety may be logical. For example, it is reasonable to fear that if a gas fire is left on it may start a blaze. However, the fear may lead to an irrational action, one that is not necessary or helpful, such as constantly checking that the gas fire is off. If unchecked, obsessive-compulsive behaviour can lead to a very disrupted life and even to mental disorders such as depression and physical maladies such as malnutrition, for example.

Originally posted 2013-04-02 17:40:03.