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, April 3, 2012

A-Z: Compulsion - That Irresistible Urge

Obsession and Compulsion go together like peanut butter and jelly, like love and marriage, like Wal-Mart and the sartorially-challenged.

But, sometimes, the cheese stands alone.

My A-Z theme is Issues related to Mental Health or Mental Illness.



  [kuhm-puhl-shuhn]  Show IPA
the act of compelling constraint; coercion.
the state or condition of being compelled.
Psychology a strong, usually irresistible impulse to performan act, especially one that is irrational or contrary to one'swill.

When I think of compulsion, all by itself, I often think of Sleeping Beauty.  She was spelled and compelled to touch the spindle of the spinning wheel.  Was there a good reason? No. Was she really thinking about it? No. She did it, because she felt she had to.

Other behaviors can include compulsive eating. (A bowl of M & M's are dangerous for me.  If they're in front of me, I will keep eating them, hungry or not.)

I'm also a reformed nail-biter.  Other body habits that are compulsive (and really gross) include hair-pulling, skin picking, blemish squeezing, and a few other BFRB's. (Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors), like nose-picking.

Yuck. Anybody still want that PB & J?

Compulsion is like a sneeze, or an itch that must be scratched.

Often, compulsion is part of the OCD or OCPD spectrum.  Someone with OCD may feel that she just can't do anything else until she flips a light switch on and off exactly eight times, or washes her hands five times.  An OCPD'r may feel that if he was shopping for groceries, and an item was omitted from the list, it cannot be purchased, even if he's standing right in front of the item, because items must be on the list first, before they can be purchased.

Compulsions are mindless, for the most part. How can you tell if you've crossed the line?

from Wikipedia:
People rely on compulsions as an escape from their obsessive thoughts; however, they are aware that the relief is only temporary, that the intrusive thoughts will soon return. Some people use compulsions to avoid situations that may trigger their obsessions. Although some people do certain things over and over again, they do not necessarily perform these actions compulsively. For example, bedtime routines, learning a new skill, and religious practices are not compulsions. Whether or not behaviors are compulsions or mere habit depends on the context in which the behaviors are performed. For example, arranging and ordering DVDs for eight hours a day would be expected of one who works in a video store, but would seem abnormal in other situations. In other words, habits tend to bring efficiency to one's life, while compulsions tend to disrupt it.
That's the key - does the compulsion interrupt one's life?  Does it bring pain and discomfort to the person who behaves compulsively, or to those around him/her?  If one was aware of the behavior, would one choose to stop, or keep eating those M & M's?

And then there's the compulsiveness attached to hoarding, which I'm not even going to get into now.

Mindfulness.  Therapy.  Meds if required.  If something is making your life worse, take whatever steps are necessary to make it better.

My A-Z theme is Issues related to Mental Health or Mental Illness.

Do you have any compulsions?
If you stopped, how did you stop?
Your thoughts?
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