Nov 21, 2014

Compulsions, Obsessions, Anal, and OCD

The holidays are the time many people meticulously clean the house and fastidiously prepare large tasty meals. Both of these activities can seem obsessive or compulsive, but neither is considered medically significant. However, for some, these obsessions and compulsions last all year.

Anal retentive (anal) is used to describe a person who pays such attention to detail that the obsession becomes an annoyance to others, and potentially to the detriment of the anal-retentive person. Traits include orderliness, stubbornness, a compulsion for control, as well as a generalized interest in collecting, possessing, and retaining objects. Those who are anal can take pleasure in organizing and re-organizing, in keeping things neat and in their proper place.

Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) people can have obsessions, compulsions, or both. OCD is a mental illness. Usually the person has a feeling that they are staving off unspecified doom, such as "Something terrible will happen if I don't wash my hands exactly seven times and tap my toes in rhythm." The acts of those who have OCD may appear paranoid and potentially psychotic. However, people with OCD generally recognize their obsessions and compulsions as irrational and may become further distressed by this realization. Those who have OCD suffer extreme distress from a disruption in their routine.

Obsessions are intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear, or worry. If the obsession is with a certain activity, performing it, or thinking about performing it later does not relieve the stress, pressure, or obsession. We all have things that distract us from our daily businesses, but those with true obsessions try to make them go away with no success.

Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that a person must perform, such as checking to make sure the front door is locked, organizing items in groups of arbitrary size, or keeping things in a specific order or position. Compulsions are aimed at reducing the associated anxiety. Most often these rituals become not just a part of daily life, but the person feels that they must repeat them every day in order to keep something horrible from happening.

Bottom line - If you must get things done perfectly and meticulous, you might be anal, but if you must get things done perfectly and meticulous or you will be continuously and seriously agitated and upset, you could have OCD.