OCD: The Need for Control

OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) is a mental condition that involves obsessions and compulsions. These are repetitive thoughts, images, urges, and behaviors that cause anxiety, fear, and distress. For instance, people who obsess about cleaning and washing their bodies and surroundings for fear of contamination can be said to have OCD.

Unfortunately, OCD can cause severe impairment if not correctly handled. For example, an OCD patient can spend the whole day obsessing and doing compulsive rituals, leaving them with little or no time to perform other important tasks like holding a job, maintaining relationships, and other practical activities. Also, OCD can lead to missed opportunities. A person who fears contamination and infections might turn down a chance to work in an environment where they could be exposed to germs.

Need for Control

One of the leading causes of OCD is the fear of losing control. Studies have shown that people who fear losing control over certain occurrences are likely to exhibit behaviors that are related to OCD. This is directly related to the fear of harm, which leads to intrusive thoughts, anxiety, urges, and fear of the likelihood of hurting yourself or someone else as a result of your carelessness or negligence. For instance, you may feel anxious about burning down your house by forgetting to turn off your oven.

Such fear of losing control is accompanied by increased and extreme responsibility to stop such a disaster from happening. Consequently, you might exhibit various compulsive behaviors like:

  • Calling or texting people continually to know if they are okay
  • Repeatedly checking whether your appliances are turned off
  • Engaging in superstitious behaviors like repeating words, counting, palm reading, and tapping
  • Washing your foods and hands repeatedly to prevent contamination

Additionally, people with OCD find uncertainty very distressing. Therefore, they always find their obsessive thoughts increasing. In that case, they develop compulsions as a way of gaining certainty. For example, you will find yourself seeking reassurances from other people about certain things over and over again. You might also start performing mental rituals that also involve seeking clarification.

And although people with OCD are unable to accept life’s unpredictability, sometimes predictability and control are rarely enough for them. They want complete certainty. God-like perfection always feels like a necessity to them. The problem is that this kind of perfection is impossible because we are human beings. This kind of obsession leads to failed relationships and careers because not everyone will understand your behavior.