Behind the obsessive there is always a struggle between two thoughts: the one that orders to stop and the one that encourages us to continue. How to overcome this internal struggle?
Toni systematically wipes the drops from the tap with her pajama sleeve while brushing her teeth. Teresa constantly needs to sort her books, clothes, and jewelry. We all know people who follow similar behaviors. We generally say that they are neat and orderly.
However, if these behaviors become repetitive and cannot be avoided without discomfort and anguish appearing, it means that there is something that is imposed beyond the real need to perform that act.
Obsessive people get trapped in a fixed idea without being able to get out of it or focus their life, almost exclusively, on an area such as cleanliness or order. But, what is behind these behaviors? What can lead us to want to do something over and over again?
WHEN DOES ORDER BECOME AN OBSESSION?
What distinguishes an orderly person from an obsessive person is that in the latter there is a struggle between two thoughts or actions. One that says that it should not be done and the other that orders it to be done. One orders to stop an idea and another encourages to continue it. This duplicity manifests itself in different ways in obsessive people.
The constant doubt is the prototype of these situations. It is usually present in obsessive people.
It can be projected into the past and appears in the form of a constant obsession about what should have been said or done. It can also be projected into the future. In this case, if the person must decide one thing or another, they are trapped in an impossibility of choosing only one option. And if you manage to make a decision, you think you were wrong and should have chosen the other.
This constant living in doubt leads people to feel and behave in certain ways. They feel guilt and remorse, especially if things did not go as expected. It is an infernal circle that collapses your ability to make decisions.
Talking to the boss, studying something necessary or, simply, finishing some domestic task takes time. The procrastination -o always leave everything to morning becomes a precipitation (because it had to be done) or delay (because it is too late). The point is, in both cases, they feel that failure is guaranteed.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF OBSESSION
The person’s own image deteriorates when this circuit is repeated over and over again because they believe they are not fulfilling what they consider to be their duty. But this contest rarely comes to light.
They keep their contradictions deep inside, for their privacy. To the outside they project a pristine, friendly and flawless image. A common mechanism for achieving this dichotomy is isolation. In this way they can create two absolutely opposite worlds and live them each as if it had nothing to do with the other.
They can maintain a flawless social image and a totally opposite inward image. As Freud would say, obsessive neurotics can have two parallel lives: one according to the moral principles of the community and another in which they let their most primitive instincts free, be they aggressive or sexual.
They can’t stand improvisation, double meaning of words or having to guess what the other is asking for. They want things clear, even if they are contradictory. Despite their dissociations, they seek a closed and orderly universe where there is a place for everything and everything has its place.
Faced with the lack of absolute guarantee in life, which moves with changing rules, they try to control everything. Although you can’t.
But the reality almost never works like that, and less when we talk about feelings, experiences or personal relationships. There is no single measurement pattern and, furthermore, it can change depending on whether the context is family, social, work or even if there are days and special circumstances within each one of them.
FROM OBSESSION TO COMPULSION
In the most severe cases, trying to achieve that control leads to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Their lives are reduced to performing two or three rituals that they must strictly adhere to. It is no longer a matter of having to check two or three times if the gas valve is closed or of always having to follow the same morning sequence to make the day go well. No.
In the great obsessives, a dead-end and mortifying logic unfolds: they have to wash their hands continuously even if they bleed, they force themselves to constantly put things in the bathroom so that they are perfectly aligned or go down the steps in a certain way, following the same succession…
If these movements are not carried out, the threat is that some imminent tragedy will happen: the mother will die, they will have a fatal accident or something will be brutally destroyed.
This is the superlative degree of obsessions with their consequent inability to lead a normal life.
ANALYZE THE DEGREE OF YOUR OBSESSION
The psychic picture of obsessions is difficult to detect because we all share some of the traits that characterize it and many of them are also socially accepted. We have all become obsessed with an idea, we have had doubts or we have felt regrets for not doing things in the right time.
These questions can help you detect if there may be problems derived from these obsessions in your case.
IS YOUR NEED TO REPEAT ACTIONS LINKED TO A CERTAIN FEELING OF ANGUISH?
The degree of anguish, the need to repeat, the inward or outward aggression and the paralysis that we may feel should serve as a compass.
IS YOUR OBSESSION WITH ORDER REALLY PART OF YOUR PERSONALITY?
Many of the symptoms of obsession accompany us since childhood and we can confuse them with traits of our own personality. We can be very orderly and proud to be.
But sometimes we feel that, deep down, something is wrong when others do not understand our tendency to maintain that alleged universal order.
DO YOU EASILY GO FROM ORDER AND CORRECTION TO THE INABILITY TO RESIST SOMETHING?
It is easy for obsessive people to have a double regime: one governed by correctness and order and another that would be like a vanishing point in which the impulsive prevails, that which they cannot resist.
It is not difficult to find among them addicted to gambling, shopping, collecting forbidden objects and even having lovers. All loaded with the curiosity of what is hidden. Nobody else knows.
DO YOU UNLOAD YOUR AGGRESSIVENESS AGAINST THE PEOPLE OF YOUR INNER CIRCLE?
Covered with injustice, discrimination or claims to bend them, obsessives have a propensity to conflict with bosses, colleagues and partners. There they allow themselves to vent their fury, since it is supposed to be justified.
They are two opposing worlds: that of control and that of lack of control. The latter has two legs, that of pleasant debauchery and that of aggressive compulsion. The tension between them is growing and can occupy different areas of their lives.
DO YOU TAKE TRANQUILIZERS BECAUSE YOU SLEEP POORLY OR TO QUELL YOUR FEELINGS OF GUILT?
Obsessive people usually go to the office because they begin to suffer symptomatic effects, such as insomnia, guilt or doubts.
But your first option is usually the search for psychotropic drugs, such as sleeping pills, tranquilizers, etc. They don’t like depending on anyone, so psychotherapy is relegated to their last option.
HAS SOMEONE IN YOUR ENVIRONMENT SUGGESTED THAT YOU COULD BE AN OBSESSIVE PERSON?
They tend to be those around obsessive people who, after suffering the consequences of their mechanisms, incite them to seek psychotherapeutic help. Obsessives, for their part, believe they know what is happening to them and that with their will they can control it.
HAVE YOUR REPETITIVE MANIAS EVER LED YOU TO ASK FOR PSYCHOLOGICAL HELP?
The therapy cannot be left alone in treating the most apparent symptoms. It must address the global structure of its mechanisms to get the obsessive person out of the drastic oppositions in which they move.
In the most serious cases, psychiatrically diagnosed as OCD (when the person cannot get an idea out of his head or believes that if he does not strictly follow a ritual something very serious will happen), it can be confused with psychosis because it is assimilated to a delusion . But the obsessive is fully aware of his behaviors.