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North London Stress Management Centre.
Tel: 020 8444 4871
We have come across people obsessed with jogging. They will go for runs perhaps three or four times a day, seven days a week. Restrictions imposed as a direct response to the Covid-19 outbreak have no impact. And if something unforeseen should ever happen to them and they could no longer physically continue their obsessive routine, their lives would have no further meaning, they would be shattered. Some of the musicians we see at our centre suffering from Focal Dystonia practice up to ten hours a day. They would progress their technique just as rapidly if they were to play for only three hours but that doesn’t matter. It is an obsession. Joggers or musicians never at any time feel or believe that by not pursuing their obsessive activities they will cause harm to themselves or others. These types of activities should not be confused with the obsessions experienced by sufferers of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) which have as their basis recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges or images that are intrusive and unwanted and that trigger high levels of anxiety and distress. These feelings sometimes build up over the course of a few hours though more often, tend to materialise instantaneously.
Sufferers attempt to ignore or suppress these thoughts and feelings or to neutralise them with some other thought or action, performing compulsions such as repetitive behaviours or mental acts that they feel driven to perform in response to the obsession. These behaviours are aimed at preventing or reducing anxiety or distress, or preventing some dreaded event or situation occurring. These actions or thoughts are, however, unconnected in any reasonable way with what they are designed to neutralise or prevent, and are clearly excessive.
Typical OCD obsessions and compulsions:
OBSESSION: Concerns about safety (COMPULSION: Constant checking of locks and appliances)
OBSESSION: Fear of contamination (COMPULSION: Repeated washing and incessant de-contamination exercises)
OBSESSION: Persistent thoughts of an unpleasant or blasphemous nature (COMPULSION: Special words, sentences or mantras repeated excessively)
OBSESSION: Exactness, order or symmetry concerns (COMPULSION: Continuous and unremitting order and arranging acts)
OBSESSION: Obsessions with the body or physical symptoms (COMPULSION: Constant mirror checking (see our separate article on Body Dysmorphic Disorder) and extreme hypochondria)
Pure Obsessional OCD (Pure O)
A form of OCD which seems increasingly prevalent, particularly over the last few years, is Pure Obsessional OCD (perhaps better known as Pure O) where sufferers experience obsessions without any physical or compulsive actions attached. These obsessions often materialise as invasive, unwanted thoughts and mental images, of causing harm and violence to others (particularly loved ones) or having immoral, otherwise sexually unacceptable, or sacrilegious feelings. For sufferers, these thoughts can be terrifying and torturous precisely because they are the exact opposite of their otherwise customary values and beliefs.
If you are suffering from OCD and need help or information on our treatment programme, which is technique-driven and combines psycho-cybernetics, emotional freedom techniques (EFT) cognitive behavioural therapy, gestalt psychology and (where appropriate) hypnosis, please feel free to contact us.