Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an illness many people experience
at some time in their lives. It ranges from merely annoying
to an emotionally crippling condition which, if left untreated,
can affect a person's relationships, work and family life
and lead to depression and other problems.
of the OCD is an obsession with something, such as cleanliness.
The anxiety generated by this obsession is dealt with by the
associated compulsion, typically a repetitive ritual, such
as continually washing one's hands, often until they are raw.
Sufferers are powerless to stop their compulsive behaviours,
and may have elaborate "rules" as to how they must
be done. They will repeat them over and over until they feel
they have got it right. However, unlike the compulsions to
drink or shop, OCD compulsions do not give the sufferer pleasure,
but only a measure of relief.
now accepted by the medical profession that the cause may
be an imbalance of a neurotransmitter in the brain called
serotonin. This is a chemical messenger in the brain that
is involved with controlling mood states and is believed to
be able to regulate repetitive behaviours.
take many forms, such as: contaminating obsessions, concern
with dirt or germs, or excessive concern with chemical or
environmental contamination; counting compulsions, having
to count up to certain numbers; checking compulsions, checking
doors, locks, stoves, brakes etc; hoarding or collecting compulsions;
repeating rituals, going in and out of doors; aggressive obsessions,
like fear of harming people, horrific images, doing something
embarrassing, terrible events like death, fire etc.; even
severe workaholics are sufferers. OCDs are sometimes accompanied
by depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, attention
deficit disorder and many other anxiety disorders.
are frequently suffers of OCD, but it can affect a person
of any age. OCDs can come and go at any stage of a person's
life, disappear for a period of time and then return in a
different form. They range from mildly interfering to extremely
incapacitating, lasting more than an hour a day. Sufferers
are aware that their behaviour is irrational and disruptive,
but they have great difficulty in controlling it. Dealing
on a daily basis with someone with OCD can put a severe strain
on families and relationships, so it is important to work
with them as well as the sufferer. Sensitivity is important,
because sometimes these rituals are the only way the person
has to communicate.
usually treated by a triple approach: education, medication
and therapy. In treating OCD, self-education or finding out
as much as possible about the problem is important. The second
step is medication. Modern drugs can produce dramatic results.
There are also a number of therapies that are useful and cognitive
behavioural psychologists have the longest track record. Group
therapy led by an experienced facilitator is also effective.
Hypnotherapy can greatly assist suffers of OCD because it
quickly gets to the roots of the obsession and helps to reframe
it. It is also useful in helping the individual regulate his
own body chemistry, thus helping them avoid or get weaned
from dependence on medication.
years ago a 19-year-old college student came to my practice
in London who had formed an obsession for a pretty girl student
in his class. He had a compulsive need to watch her all the
time and had been stalking her until the College authorities
warned that he would be expelled. This obsession for the girl
occupied most of his day, although he admitted that he was
not in love with her. He had become deeply depressed and the
College doctor prescribed Prozac, but the side effects made
him even more depressed.
to find out the underlying cause of his disorder, and I was
able to regress him in hypnosis back to a single trauma that
turned out to have been the primary cause. Over a period of
four months I was able to teach his unconscious mind how to
change and then overcome his obsession. I then tested these
changes by taking him through a process of desensitisation.
In the process he found he no longer wanted Prozac, and gradually
he weaned himself off this drug. He went back to attending
lectures, writing essays and leading a normal student life…
and his exam results were excellent!