What makes us constantly think about the worst and double-check everything?
Remember the movie “It never gets better” and the hero of Jack Nicholson, who is manic afraid of getting infected and therefore constantly washes his hands in hot water, avoids the touch of strangers and eats exclusively disposable devices? “This is how obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) manifests itself,” explains psychologist Marina Meaus. – Obsessive thoughts or images of the worst that can happen to us are obsessions, and repetitive actions that, like in the case of a movie hero, do not make any sense, are compulsions. No matter how a person wants to get rid of them, he does not succeed, because only in this way does he relieve the constant alarm that has long become the backdrop of his life. ”
We get reassurance not because we were convinced that the conditional coffee maker was turned off – but because, on returning home, they once again performed the established ritual of psychological unloading. Why do we choose such a strange way to calm down?
In endless obsessive fantasies, they lose all those painful feelings and emotions that they cannot show otherwise
“Although there is still no definitive evidence base for the origin of this disorder, psychoanalytic theory refers us to a person’s childhood when his mother praised him only when he was an obedient and comfortable baby,” the psychologist explains. – Meanwhile, children have natural impulses of anger, hatred and aggression. If the mother only scolds for them, does not help to realize her feelings and cope with them, the baby learns to displace them. In adulthood, a person hides in his obsession or compulsions his forbidden fantasies and desires, he thinks, and tries to be good for everyone not to be rejected. ”
“In life, I am not an aggressive person, but the same strange thoughts tormented me,” Oleg recalls. – At work, it seemed that I was going to yell at a colleague, in the store, talking to the seller, I suddenly imagined how I started to beat him. Although in reality I did no harm to anyone, I was embarrassed to communicate with people. ”
“Such people have a frozen emotional sphere,” comments Marina Meaus, “and in endless obsessive fantasies, they lose all those painful feelings and emotions that they cannot show otherwise.”
The most typical fears of people with OCD are related to the possibility of infection, loss of health and imminent death. A person is constantly worried about himself or loved ones, is fond of the magic of numbers and believes in signs. “Almost all the objects around me at some point may seem dangerous to me,” Arina admits. – Often I start counting shop windows in houses on an unfamiliar street and tell myself that if an odd number falls to the end of the road, everything will be fine. When the number is even, it scares me so much that I can go back and start counting again. ”
“I’m constantly scared that I can flood the neighbors or start a fire in the house that will kill people through my fault, so I often come back to check the faucet and burners,” says Anna. “It seems to a person that numbers, pipes or electrical appliances will let him down, but in reality it’s a fear that pent-up feelings will spill out and be found out, often those that can be difficult to admit to oneself,” Marina Meaus believes.
Quite healthy aspirations may turn out to be just a cover and an attempt to escape anxiety under the guise of vigorous activity
Along with strange rituals for the environment, which people often try not to advertise, there are many disguised and, at first glance, socially acceptable obsessions.
“For example, a girl wants to get married and talks a lot about dating sites and dates. A man seeks to open a business and constantly goes to trainings. These completely healthy, at first glance, aspirations may in some cases turn out to be just a cover and an attempt to escape anxiety under the guise of vigorous activity, ”says Marina Meaus. – This can only be verified by the result. If, after five years, a girl talks about marriage, but is not ready to build a relationship with anyone, and a man, having written one business plan, refuses to implement it and quickly moves on to the next idea, then with a high degree of probability this is only painful obsessions. ”
How to get rid of obsessions?
“It is important to give a person the opportunity to see the irrationality of his fears,” says Olga Sadovskaya, a cognitive therapist. – To teach him to meet them face to face, to experience, and not to avoid. The exposure technique, that is, immersion in fear, helps well in this, when we try to maximize the state of anxiety, while a person refrains from his usual actions. Reaching a peak, anxiety gradually wanes.
“When the therapist offered me this exercise, I thought it would only get worse,” Alice recalls. – However, once again thinking that I had not locked the door and I had to go back, I restrained myself and did not. It was almost unbearable: my beloved cat remained at home, it seemed to me that someone would get into the apartment and harm her. From these thoughts literally trembling. But the brighter and more detailed I imagined everything that could happen, that, oddly enough, it became easier for me. Gradually, negative thoughts disappeared. ”
Do not try to be right all the time, allow yourself what may have been forbidden in childhood – to be different
People with OCD, as a rule, live in a very strict framework, a kind of emotional case. Therefore, it is important to start by listening to yourself. “If you have symptoms of this disorder, analyze how you tend to restrain yourself in communicating with people or evaluating events,” Olga Sadovskaya suggests. – Try to be more sincere with yourself and your surroundings. To do this, it’s useful to keep a diary of feelings, describing episodes of communication in it every day and comparing your true feelings with words and actions in reality. ”
Do not try to be right all the time, allow yourself to what was possibly forbidden in childhood – to be different.