Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Too Perfect Tuesdays - Chap 5 - Demand-Sensitivity & Demand-Resistance

This post continues with Demand-Sensitivity and Demand-Resistance from Chapter Five.

This series will look at a small snippet of The book on the Perfectionist Personality, aka The Obsessive Compulsive disordered Personality, aka OCPD, each week. Please follow along, leave your comments, engage more on the FaceBook website... whatever your heart calls you to do.

Too Perfect, When Being in Control Gets Out of Control by Allan E. Mallinger, M.D. and Jeanette DeWyze was published by Random House in 1992.  If you believe you are dealing with OCPD or someone who is "Too Perfect," whether that's you or a loved one, please buy a copy of the book and read it for additional insights that will not all be covered in these excerpts.

 Demand-Sensitivity & Demand-Resistance
This section opens with three anecdotal stories - the first about a woman who postpones going to bed or making love with her husband - although she always enjoys their lovemaking, and is afraid if their sex life continues to deteriorate, her husband will become interested in other women.  The second is about a man who stays up late watching TV, even though he's physically exhausted and not interested in the programs, leaving him too tired to focus on his work and to do any household projects.
<snip> "I've learned not to come out and say it when I want Gordon to do something.  If I don't ask, he'll do it, but if I say something, I never know when I'll see some action.  I recently made the mistake of asking him to fill out his part of a credit application.  He said he would, and I know he wants the charge card, but that was three weeks ago.  He still says he's going to get to it, but somehow the right moment never seems to arise."
What's going on here?  What's preventing these people from doing things that each of them seemingly wants to do?
Many different factors could explain their behavior.  But in these particular cases, the two powerful factors were a special sensitivity to perceived demands of expectations, and a negative inner response to these demands.
 I call these two conditions "demand-sensitivity" and "demand-resistance."  Although they don't always occur simultaneously, they are related, and both frequently affect the obsessive person.
Sometimes, we "let" things get in the way of what we really don't want to do.  (Like filing, my nemesis.)  If you're reading this, on your computer, then you know as well as I do there are eight billion ways to waste time on the computer alone.  And then, whoops, oh how terrible, outta time!

But true demand-sensitivity and demand-resistance are about rebelling against things we truly do want to do.  Like making love.  Like the guy who wants the credit card but won't fill out his part of the application.  There's no good reason for his foot-dragging.  Is it the most fun you could ever have with a pen?  Probably not, but it's fifteen minutes and done, on to something else.

I've heard so many stories about OCPD parents who wouldn't read and sign kids' permission slips or homework acknowledgments, creating tremendous stress with their partners who get caught into a lose-lose scenario.  If they by-pass the demand-resistant parent for signatures, they are "cutting them out of the children's lives."  If they give them the papers to sign, and the other parents drag their feet, then they feel tremendous stress and pressure to get the thing done.

[Answer: offer the paperwork, with a deadline.  "Jimmy is taking this to school on Thursday morning.  I'm putting it right here, so you can review or sign it by Wednesday night, or it's going without your signature, your choice."  Then no "bugging, no reminders or pleas to get it done.]

Every person I know who's dealt with OCPD has some stories to tell about demand-sensitivity or demand-resistance, and there will be much more from Too Perfect on this subject in weeks to come. Speaking as a non, this was one of the things that drove me nuts about my ex - if I didn't broach something just right (whatever that is), he would refuse to do it, just because I'd asked him to.

It should not be treated as a cause for resentment if we ask each other to do things from time to time.  It's also okay to say no.  I recently heard from a FaceBook "friend" (from whom I hadn't heard in over a year) who "invited" me to help with her yard sale last weekend.  I thought, oh, hell no! but what I said was simply No.

Where the mental illness comes in is resisting/saying no to everything as a knee-jerk reaction.

Do you have knee-jerk reactions of demand-sensitivity or demand-resistance?
How are you overcoming that?