What's the difference?Let's look at an example...A person can have a compulsion to tidy their home. They do this and feel an immediate sense of satisfaction for doing so. When the task is complete, the thought process 'I must tidy my house' disappears...and the person feels much better, turning a negative situation (untidy house) into a positive, satisfying one (tidy house).
With an obsession however, the sufferer broods and ruminates about the task (or thought) The thoughts come more and more often, until the person becomes preoccupied with them. The obsessive act (or thought) is usually about the deferment of punishment. The difficulty is, that unlike the compulsive, the obsessive feels no reward at all for performing his task (or thought): he/she feels no relief, no satisfaction, nothing at all. So, minutes (or hours) later, the brooding and ruminating returns.
With a compulsion, the sufferer feels an immediate benefit, with an obsession, there is no benefit (apart from having deferred their worries for a few minutes).
Obsessions, obsessional thoughts and 'OCD'The word 'obsession' comes from the latin word obsidere, meaning 'to besiege'. Obsessions are recurrent thoughts, beliefs or ideas that dominate a person's mind. They affect both men and women from all ages and often occur in people that are already something of a perfectionist or who are anxious to get everything to be just right.
People suffering from OCD often feel that they have no control over intrusive thoughts which just seem to 'force' themselves into their mind. According to one study (Sanavio 1988) the four most common obsessional characteristics are repetitive negative thoughts (e.g. jealousy), concern of losing control (e.g. hurting someone), contamination (being contaminated by germs) and checking behaviours (such as doors or windows).
Sufferers are literally besieged with their own thoughts.
|Symptoms of an obsession or obsessional behaviour|
There is often the dominating thought that if the task (e.g. counting / checking things) isn't carried out...then something 'bad' or unpleasant is going to happen. Obsessionals find it incredibly difficult to let go of things or stop worrying / brooding and their worries may transfer from one thing to the next rapidly.
As far as a professional hypno-analyst is concerned OCD is really an obsessional neurosis, just another nervous disoder that can be treated very successfully.
People with very strong obsessional traits also tend to be fairly negative in their thinking and often respon in the first instance to situations in a very negative or catastrophic way. All of these feelings and anxieties can be helped.
Compulsions and reckless or compulsive behavioursWith compulsive behaviour the person does feel some reward...they get some satisfaction and 'escape from life' for a while.
The more stress (and anxiety) the person feels, the stronger their compulsions, and the more they will carry out their compulsive behaviour, often resulting in feelings of guilt ('I shouldn't have done that, I'll stop tomorrow').
|Symptoms of compulsions or compulsive behaviour|
Self harming, cutting and self image problemsMany people dealing with emotional distress or anxiety hurt themselves in one way or another both as a relief from their emotions and as a way of trying to feel something or show others the pain that they are going through. It is a common misconception that self harmers are seeking attention - this isn't always the case and most self harmers do it in secret.
Self harm is most common (but not exclusive) in young people, both boys and girls, and recent research by the Samaritans found ate least one in 10 teens have deliberately hurt themselves. Self harm is often associated with cuts on the arms or legs, but can also include burning, hitting oneself, scratching the skin, bruising, hair pulling (Trichotillomania) and abusing the body with reckless behaviours such as eating disorders, drugs or other risky behaviours.
Stars who have admitted self harming include Dame Kelly Holmes (athlete) and Angelina Jolie.
As with any symptom caused by, or aggrevated by emotional distress/anxiety, hypnotherapy is a suitable treatment for self harm.
|Symptoms and signs of self harming, body abuse or reckless behaviour|