Is there a way out of obsession

Reflect on the line that separates worry from obsession

Do you already know what obsession is or have you stopped to think if you have obsessive thoughts? The clinical psychologist Carlos Soares explains, in this article, about this disorder and also possible treatments for those who suffer from these repetitive thoughts and that end up disturbing their social life. What is obsession?

Carlos Soares: Obsession is related to repetitive, insistent and persistent ideas and thoughts; it consists of a fixed idea, which determines a person’s conduct, leading him to behaviors that, most of the time, are against his own will.

Illustrative photo: Wesley Almeida / How does psychology explain the symptoms and signs of an obsessive person?

Carlos Soares: An obsessive person develops several repetitive thoughts, which he has no control over. Some more common obsessions can be:

– Obsession with cleanliness, which may be the result of an irrational fear of contamination or dirt.

– Fixation by a rigid organization, which necessarily follows a certain order and symmetry.

– Aggressive thoughts, some of self-harming or negatively charged thoughts.

Behavior What is the difference between compulsion and obsession?

Carlos Soares: We can say that obsession is characterized by intrusive, repetitive and very persistent thoughts, which cause restlessness and discomfort in those who feel it.

In short: they are mental phenomena, such as intrusive, repetitive and undesirable thoughts, images or impulses.

Compulsion, on the other hand, is characterized by behaviors or actions in which the person feels compelled to perform, and which generates a lot of difficulty to control and which aim to relieve the emotional stress caused by obsessions.

For example: if the person is very obsessed with dirt, he may compulsively wash his hands to eliminate the problem.

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Carlos Soares: We can mention some common types: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and obsession with cleanliness, that is, leaving everything always clean and sanitized, obsession with diseases and body care. How to identify someone obsessive?

Carlos Soares: Anyone who suffers from obsession, even if he wants to and tries hard, cannot get it out of his mind, because it causes great distress and, many times, causes the person to do things (rituals or compulsions) to get rid of the fear or discomfort caused by it. How to end obsession with someone?

Carlos Soares: It is essential to work on some fronts, such as:

– Improve your self-love, that is, you do not need anyone to be happy, except yourself;

– Raise your self-esteem , that is, when you know yourself, you know your limits, your difficulties and, then, how to work to improve these issues;

– Work on your insecurity , so that you have more confidence and security when you need to perform a task;

– Do not insist on something (or someone) that is proven to be no longer working with you, after all, love is also liberating.

Treatment What is the treatment?

Carlos Soares: Yes. The most suitable is to do Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is considered one of the best treatments for obsession that, in many cases, requires the use of medications as well. In this approach, therapy is based on the fact that if the patient learns to challenge his fears, exposing himself to situations he avoids or handling objects he considers dirty or infected, failing to perform decontamination rituals. Over time, anxietyand the discomfort disappears, through tasks indicated by the therapist, to correct the patients’ way of thinking, changing their way of thinking and, then, responding with a different behavior, performing a cognitive restructuring. Therefore, this restructuring is nothing more than a “training” for patients in identifying distorted and dysfunctional thoughts and beliefs and changing their way of thinking about them.


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