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, March 13, 2012

Too Perfect Tuesdays - Chap 7 - The Lure of Worry and Rumination

This post continues with The Lure of Worry and Rumination from Chapter Seven.

This series looks 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.

The Lure of Worry and Rumination
<snip>For one thing, the tendency to worry is likely to be a central component of his self-image, and closely linked to other "good" qualities.  Many obsessives associate worrying with being a serious, conscientious person, and on some level they view happy-go-lucky non-worriers as irresponsible.
Second, they probably feel that worry gives them some control over the object of their concern, somehow preparing them better for an upcoming event, for example.  Maybe it will help them discover some protective action they can take (to prevent a party from being a failure, say, or to safeguard their family from violent crime).  Worrying may be a form of "bracing oneself" to better withstand anything from romantic rejection to the Greenhouse Effect.

As well-educated and intelligent as they often are, many obsessives also are superstitious about worry.  If they worry about their spouse's plane crashing (so this twisted "reasoning" goes), maybe that will somehow keep it from happening.  Worrying actively demonstrates their lack of presumptuousness, because they're not arrogantly assuming everything will go their way, the Cosmic Scorekeeper doesn't need to "teach them a lesson." Like all superstitions, this is an attempt to feel a sense of control over people and events that are essentially uncontrollable.

Similarly, most rumination carries with it a sense of retroactive control.  By chastising themselves for some pitfall they should have foreseen (even if there's no way they really could have), they are denying the frightening reality that mistakes are inevitable.

Often, people who ruminate feel that if they dwell enough on their errors, or on bad things (done by them or to them) - if they can somehow sear these things into memory - then they can be sure not to let them happen again.  A patient comes to mind who couldn't stop dwelling on his wife's infidelity, even years afterward.  He tortured himself with painful fantasies of her sexual relationship with the other man, insisting that she tell him all the details, though this knowledge was almost unbearable to him.  He remained in the marriage, but held fiercely to his anger for several essentially self-protective reasons.  First, the angry feelings helped thwart any temptation to be close to his wife - and therefore vulnerable - again.  Second, his clinging to the graphic mental pictures ensured that he wouldn't be as unprepared (and as devastated) if his wife ever betrayed him again.  Finally, by refusing to put the past to rest, he kept his wife's infidelity fresh in her mind.  He believed that her guilt feelings both punished her betrayal and made it more unlikely she would do it again.
My ex would get very upset because I did not live up to his standard of worrying.  I'm more one of those happy-go-lucky irresponsible types.  I guess he was hooked on the quantity vs. quality argument - 10 hours spent unproductively churning over something obviously means you care more than 1 hour spent productively problem-solving, right?  Except I didn't think this was so obvious, or even true.

Obviously, obviously.  If I had a dollar for every time my ex said, "Obviously," to me in a sarcastic way to point out that I was Not Thinking The Right Way, I'd be... well, I'd have some credit cards paid off, anyway.

And as I've blogged before, yes, he would rerun someone''s "greatest faults" over and over again, like playing a favorite CD, until every grievance was red hot and causing him to heat up all over again.  It was like having a filling fall out, the tongue keeps going back to it and going back to it.

I wonder if the tendency to get stuck in worry/rumination loops is a combination of brain wiring plus formed habit, or if it's more one or the other.  Or avoidance, even.  Sometimes I think that my ex chose to futz over the tomato plants, for example, because that way he didn't have to address the issue I wanted him to address, getting rid of his hoard.  Because if you're busy thinking about/working on something else, how can you possibly be expected to take on X?

What's your experience with worry and rumination?
Do you believe that if you worry about something "enough," 
then it can't happen?
Your thoughts?
Enhanced by Zemanta