Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

“I have a confession. I’m a little OCD when I post on social media – I tend to edit more than I should. But then I started thinking, maybe we should all edit a little more – our posts, our thoughts, our words.

Traci Lea LaRussa

What is OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)?

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by intense obsessions and / or compulsions that significantly interfere with daily functioning. Obsessions are recurring and persistent unwanted thoughts, impulses, or images that are usually irrational and cause negative feelings such as fear, doubt, or unfinished feelings. Compulsions are intentional and repetitive behaviors that serve to silence these thoughts and the negative emotions that accompany them.

“But the most important part of her ritual was cleaning the toilet. In order to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses, it had to be done with absolute thoroughness and precision. Cleaning the toilet was a test of her competence and loyalty to Oliver, her god, and the precept of staying in control.”

Andrea Kayne Kaufman, Oxford Messed Up

Some examples of obsessions and their associated compulsions are listed in the table below. It is important to note that OCD, the pattern of obsession and / or compulsions, must be a major barrier in a person’s life. Having the thought “Have I locked the door?” and going back to check this again is not a sign of OCD. But going back several times to check can be indicative of an anxiety disorder.

Obsessions

  • Constant, irrational concern about dirt, germs, or contamination.
  • Being excessively concerned with order, tidying up, symmetry
  • Fear that negative or aggressive thoughts or impulses will cause personal harm or harm to a neighbor
  • Preoccupation with the loss or disposal of objects of little or no value

Compulsions 

  • Cleaning (e.g. washing hands, bathing, or cleaning household utensils repeatedly)
  • Check (e.g. if the doors are closed, the heating is turned off, the hairdryer is pulled out)
  • Repeat (e.g., the inability to stop repeating a name, phrase, or simple activity)
  • Hoarding (difficult to throw away useless things like old newspapers, bottle caps, or rubber tires

Obsessions and compulsions can vary with age. For example, a child may be concerned that he or his family will be harmed by a burglar (Obsession). So he will check all doors and windows to make sure they are closed. But he may fear that he accidentally opened a door while checking, and will go through the ritual a second, a third, and a fourth time (Compulsion). An adult with OCD may fear that s/he  will get sick from germs, so s/he will start brushing excessively, washing hands, or refusing to touch the doorknob with bare hands, or refusing to use other toilets.

An important factor in OCD is that the person continues to have obsessions or compulsions despite realizing that they are not rational. This can lead to feelings of embarrassment or embarrassment in people who suffer from OCD, and they may be reluctant to say what is happening for them. Good communication with friends, family and / or relatives can increase understanding of the problem and help someone get the support they need.
If you recognize any of these symptoms in yourself or one of your loved ones, a professional evaluation may be appropriate.

Appropriate intervention for OCD

Appropriate intervention for OCD from a biopsychosocial and integrative angle includes:

  • Individual Therapy: Individual work focuses on developing specific anxiety management skills, while also addressing the struggles of everyday stressors and low self-esteem that often accompany a diagnosis of anxiety.
  • Relaxation, Grounding and Body Awareness: Like individual therapy, relaxation, grounding and body awareness works with teaching specific anxiety management skills. Inner processes that contribute to fear are made more aware and thus the client is taught to better control these processes.
  • Family Therapy: Family work is important in the treatment of anxiety because it focuses on the development of open communication and expression of emotion, while teaching parents / loved ones techniques that they can use at home with the client.
  • Group Therapy: Groups provide safe and appropriate social training where the client can receive feedback from peers and professionals on how to regulate their behavior.

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Individual therapy sessions

Dirk Marivoet psychotherapist in Belgium

Dirk Marivoet, MSc. is a European certified psychotherapist (ECP). He studied physiotherapy as well as psychomotor therapy at the University of Leuven. For over 30 years he has worked in a holistic way and is especially interested in the integration of body and mind.

Dirk Marivoet and his colleagues at the IBI (International Institute of Bodymind Integration) offer individual therapy sessions for those interested in this mind-body approach.

In Ghent (Belgium), Europe, the rest of the world and online.

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