This preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.
Unformatted text preview: o playing a videotape of each event over and over again in his mind, asking himself if he had behaved properly and telling himself that he had done his best, or 12/10/09 11:16:30 AM Anxiety Disorders Certain basic themes run through the thoughts of most people troubled by obsessive
thinking (Abramowitz, McKay, & Taylor, 2008). The most common theme appears to
be dirt or contamination (Tolin & Meunier, 2008). Other common ones are violence
and aggression, orderliness, religion, and sexuality. The prevalence of such themes may
vary from culture to culture. Religious obsessions, for example, seem to be more common in cultures or countries with strict moral codes and religious values (Björgvinsson
& Hart, 2008).
Compulsions are similar to obsessions in many ways. For example, although compulsive behaviors are technically under voluntary control, the people who feel they must
do them have little sense of choice in the matter. Most of these individuals recognize
that their behavior is unreasonable, but they believe at the same time something terrible
will happen if they don’t perform the compulsions. After performing a compulsive act,
they usually feel less anxious for a short while. For some people the compulsive acts
develop into detailed rituals. They must go through the ritual in exactly the same way
every time, according to certain rules.
Like obsessions, compulsions take various forms. Cleaning compulsions are very
common. Like the woman we heard from earlier, people with these compulsions feel
compelled to keep cleaning themselves, their clothing, or
their homes. The cleaning may follow ritualistic rules and
be repeated dozens or hundreds of times a day. People with
checking compulsions check the same items over and over—
door locks, gas taps, important papers—to make sure that
all is as it should be (Radomsky et al., 2008). Another
common compulsion is the constant effort to seek order or
balance (Coles & Pietrefesa, 2008). People with this compulsion keep placing certain items (clothing, books, foods)
in perfect order in accordance with strict rules. Touching,
verbal, and counting compulsions are also common.
Although some people with obsessive-compulsive disorder experience obsessions only or compulsions only,
most of them experience both (Clark & Guyitt, 2008).
In fact, compulsive acts are often a response to obsessive
thoughts. One study found that in most cases, compulsions
seemed to represent a yielding to obsessive doubts, ideas, or
urges (Akhtar et al., 1975). A woman who keeps doubting
that her house is secure may yield to that obsessive doubt
by repeatedly checking locks and gas jets. Or a man who
obsessively fears contamination may yield to that fear by performing cleaning rituals.
Many people with obsessive-compulsive disorder worry that they will act out their
obsessions. A man with obsessive images of wounded loved ones may worry that he
is but a step away from committing murder, or a woman with obsessive urges to yell
out in church may worr...
View Full Document