This preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.
Unformatted text preview: y that she will one day give in to them and embarrass herself.
Most such concerns are unfounded. Although many obsessions lead to compulsive
acts—particularly to cleaning and checking compulsions—they usually do not lead to
violence or immoral conduct.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder was once among the least understood of the psychological disorders. In recent decades, however, researchers have begun to learn more
about it. The most influential explanations and treatments come from the psychodynamic, behavioral, cognitive, and biological models. ComFun6e_Ch04_C!.indd 123 123 BETWEEN THE LINES
An Obsession That Changed
The experiments that led Louis Pasteur
to the pasteurization process may have
been driven in part by his obsession with
contamination and infection. Apparently
he would not shake hands and regularly
wiped his glass and plate before dining
(Asimov, 1997). << Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images had said the right thing every step of the way. He would do this while sitting at his desk,
supposedly studying; and it was not unusual for him to look at the clock after such a period
of rumination and note that, to his surprise, two or three hours had elapsed.
(Spitzer et al., 1981, pp. 20–21) :// Cultural rituals
Rituals do not necessarily reflect compulsions. Indeed, cultural and religious
rituals often give meaning and comfort
to their practitioners. Here, Buddhist
monks splash water over themselves
during their annual winter prayers at a
temple in Tokyo. This cleansing ritual,
performed to pray for good luck, is a
far cry from the cleaning compulsions
often found in obsessive-compulsive
disorder. 12/10/09 11:16:30 AM 124 ://CHAPTER 4 The Psychodynamic Perspective
As you have seen, psychodynamic theorists believe that an anxiety disorder develops
when children come to fear their own id impulses and use ego defense mechanisms
to lessen the resulting anxiety. What distinguishes obsessive-compulsive disorder from
other anxiety disorders, in their view, is that here the battle between anxiety-provoking
id impulses and anxiety-reducing defense mechanisms is not buried in the unconscious
but is played out in overt thoughts and actions. The id impulses usually take the form
of obsessive thoughts, and the ego defenses appear as counterthoughts or compulsive Dining Out: The Obsessive-Compulsive Experience [R]estaurants are designed to be calming and relaxing. That
is one of the main reasons people like to eat out. To many of us
with obsessive--compulsive disorder, those pleasures are invisible. We walk into a calm and civilized dining room and see
things we won’t be able to control. . . .
Personally, I am fine with just about
any table, although the wobbly ones
can spell big trouble. I have harm obsessions, which means I am plagued by the
fear that other people will be hurt by
something I do, or don’t do. Seated at
a less-than-sturdy table, I conjure images
of fellow diners being crushed or otherwise injured should I fail to notify the
restaurant’s management. This is called a
reporting compulsion in th...
View Full Document