, pub-3656949002636110, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 OCD Compulsions | Streetwise Mental Health


Some sufferers of OCD carry compulsive rituals because they inexplicably have a need to do. Others act compulsively so as to make something bad less severe so that it lessens the feelings of obsessive thoughts. This makes the person feel that it will either prevent the fearful things from happening or it will push the fearful and worrying thoughts from their imagination. The sufferers reasoning is so distorted that it causes extreme distress for that person or those around them. Extreme hair pulling, nail biting, skin picking and other forms of self-harm are repetitive disorders for those with OCD and are within the obsessive/compulsive spectrum. Many of the people with OCD know that they are not acting rationally, but somehow feel doing these things will ward off dread, fear or panic. 

Some of the more common compulsions are cleaning, checking things such as locking the door or windows, repeating actions such as switching the light on and off, hand washing, ordering ornaments and utensils in a certain way and always seeking reassurance. Compulsion differ from erratic motions like tapping, blinking, touching or rubbing and movements such as body swaying, self-biting and head banging. It can be sometimes difficult to tell the difference between compulsive behaviours and erratic motions. Around 10-40% of sufferers with OCD have erratic motion for the course of their lifetime.  

Individuals with OCD rely on their compulsions to escape from their obsessive thoughts. However, they are usually only a temporary relief to the disruptive thoughts and images and that imagination soon takes over again. Some individuals use compulsion to avoid situation that might cause them their obsessions. Some people do certain things over and over, but do not actually do them compulsively. Examples are religious practises, bedtime routines or learning a new skill are not compulsive behaviours. Certain behaviours may not be a compulsive disorder, but are mere habits that have formed. It all depends on the context in which the behaviours are carried out.  Put another way, habits are intended to bring efficiency to one's household, whilst compulsions tend to disrupt the daily routines that are involved in ordering a tidy household. A compulsion is the enactment of performing only certain acts repeatedly. 

Additionally, to the anxiety, fear and panic that accompanies OCD, individuals may spend hours performing only certain tasks within their day instead of minutes. In these situations, obviously fulfilling their social roles to family and work can be hard. In some individuals these behaviours can cause physical conditions, such as obsessively washing their hands with hot water and antibacterial soap causing dermatitis, or scaring from skin picking, or the eventual loss of hair from pulling. 

Sufferers of OCD can use rationalisation to explain away their behaviours. However, this rationalisation does not apply to their overall behaviours, but each individual action is rationalised. An example is a compulsion to keep checking to see whether windows and doors are locked. They may argue that the time taken to keep going around the house and the stress and panic it causes is much less the stressful thoughts caused by having a thief enter the house. So, saying, to keep checking is a better option. What can happen is that after checking once, the individual sufferer may deem it necessary to still perform several checks throughout the day. 

A compulsive behaviour is defined as an act that is performed repetitively or persistently. It is also carried out where there is no actual feelings of excitement or pleasure usually. Compulsions maybe an attempt to help stop obsessions and make the notions go way. In other word’s carrying out a compulsive action to stop worrying intrusive thoughts and images. 

There are many different types of compulsive behaviours that are taken to extremes, including: 

  • Hoarding. 

  • Eating. 

  • Gambling. 

  • Shopping. 

  • Picking skin. 

  • Trichotillomania (hair pulling). 

  • Dermatographia (extreme nail biting). 

  • Washing. 

  • Counting. 

  • Checking. 

  • Repeating. 

  • Talking (Neuroticism). 


Hoarding compulsions are the excessive savings of possessions and having trouble throwing things away. This includes rubbish as well. Features of hoarding are when there is difficulty being able to use the living quarters, as well as having difficulty with exits that may cause a danger to family and friends and yourself. Items such as newspapers, containers, clothes, books, junk mail, craft items and rubbish are all items typically hoarded by people who are compulsive hoarders. The sufferer believes they either have a sentimental value or will be of use at a later date.  Other reason for this hoarding is the fear of losing some important information or object characteristics. 


This OCD compulsion is an inability to control the nutrition taken in. This obviously results in excessive weight gain. The overeating can be attributed to a coping mechanism to deal with any obsessional thoughts that the sufferer may be experiences causing them stress and anxiety. Food can be considered as a natural comfort zone. Most of the people over-eating know it is bad for them, but are unable to stop, so bear this in mind. This condition usually develops in early childhood. Those that suffer with compulsive eating due to OCD, usually do not have the coping skills to deal with the emotional issues caused by their overindulgence. They regularly binge for periods that vary in length, in which they drink or eat incessantly until the compulsion passes or they run out of a particular food, or until they just can't consume anymore. Emotional stresses such as feelings of guilt and shame accompany them quite often after these binges. This compulsion can have deadly consequences including: 

  • Binge eating. 

  • Depression. 

  • Spontaneous dieting. 

  • Withdrawal from physical activity. 

  • Heart disease. 

Although this is obviously a very serious condition of OCD, getting treatment and the help of a proper dietary plan, individuals can overcome this compulsive behaviour. 


Characterising compulsive gambling is by their desire to gamble and not being able to resist the issue of gambling. It can lead to serious personal problems and social issues in the sufferer’s lifestyle. Obviously, the odd visit to the bookmakers can be rewarding socially. This compulsion usually begins in adolescence for males and between the ages of 20-40 for females. It is usually during stressful times in life that gambling compulsions can strike.  People who have a gambling compulsion run the risk of having troubles with law enforcement, family and the people and places where they gamble. Most of the issues caused by this issue are related to not having the money to gamble of from its previous debts that have built up. Help for this OCD compulsion are cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and self-help and twelve-step programs. This latter was originally used for alcoholism and involves group discussions and one-to-one therapy. 


The compulsion of shopping is characterized by excessive purchasing that causes impairment to a person's lifestyle like financially and family losses of benefits. It is also a compulsion to buy one particular item, such as shoes. It's okay to have lots of shoes however, it is if the buying causes family issues and gives you significant debt issues. The rate for this compulsion is about 5.8% worldwide and most of the sufferers are women (around 80% of sufferers). As yet no proven treatment for this OCD condition has been established. 

Picking skin, Trichotillomania (hair pulling) and Dermatographia (extreme nail biting). 

These issues are caused by stresses and anxiousness in OCD and are involved self-harm categories. They can cause permanent loss of hair on any part of the body, scaring from picking skin as well. The sufferer of nail biting will bite them down to the point of where they bleed.  

Talking (Neuroticism). 

Neuroticism is seen as one of the big five of personality disorders in psychology. People that have a high score in neuroticism are more likely to suffer from emotions and feelings such as: 

  • Anxiety disorders like OCD. 

  • Loneliness. 

  • Anger and frustration. 

  • Fear. 

  • Worry. 

  • Jealousy. 

Individuals that suffer from this are more than likely to respond more worse to emotional stresses and so causing them to interpret the ordinary situations as threatening and fearful. Also, their minor frustrations can become hopelessly out of control. They are also more than likely to be more self-conscious and also shy and have trouble controlling their thoughtful urges. 

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