More threads by SS8282


Is there such a thing as being too compulsive? I mean having the 'CD' in 'OCD' without the 'O'?

I know I'm very compulsive, sometimes to the point that it's not good for me. An example is staying late at work because I *need* to finish some assignments. Sometimes I have to 'do' something, and I can't stop thinking about it until I do.

Any ideas on how to be less compulsive?

Daniel E.
example is staying late at work because I *need* to finish some assignments.

Since this is very consistent with OCD or other forms of anxiety, at least some of the established treatments for anxiety or OCD (cognitive-behavioral therapy, medications, etc.) should help:

It's worth noting that the ability to associate work with reward is disturbed in mental disorders, including schizophrenia, mood disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder...People with OCD work incessantly; even when they get rewarded they feel they must repeat the task.

Self-help books often do more bad than good by keeping people away from therapy, but a popular self-help book for compulsions (and obsessions) that seems good for complementing therapy is Brain Lock. The 4 steps of the Brain Lock (reconditioning) technique are outlined here and in more detail here.


Thanks for the links.

You think I'm also OCD? My shrink never mentioned that I'm obsessive, just compulsive. He also didn't say anything about how to deal with the compulsions.

From what I've read, I need to work on my obsessive thoughts, but I don't know what those thoughts are. For me, it's more of a feeling than a thinking. Does that make sense?

Daniel E.
You think I'm also OCD?

No, not necessarily. Workaholics, for example, are obessive about work but don't necessarily have OCD. When I saw an OCD expert and had a lot of obessive thinking, he wasn't convinced it was OCD per se. So one can have some symptoms of OCD without having OCD:

David Baxter said:
I think it's helpful to think of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder as one end of a continuum. Many of us are obsessive or compulsive about certain things in our lives and in many cases that can even be adaptive. We generally think of those traits as OCD when they meet the criterion of inrefering with one's ability to carry on with day-to-day activities.

As a simple example, it isn't unusual for someone to leave the house, get into the car, and then think, "Did I lock the door?" or "Did I turn off the stove?". We may even get out of the car to check it - once. But the individual with OCD isn't able to leave after checking once, because the thought is still there - it becomes, "What if I didn't check it correctly?" and s/he must return to check the thing repeatedly.

Diagnostic criteria for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder(DSM-IV-TR)
A. Either obsessions or compulsions:

Obsessions as defined by (1), (2), (3), and (4):

(1) recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that are experienced, at some time during the disturbance, as intrusive and inappropriate and that cause marked anxiety or distress
(2) the thoughts, impulses, or images are not simply excessive worries about real-life problems
(3) the person attempts to ignore or suppress such thoughts, impulses, or images, or to neutralize them with some other thought or action
(4) the person recognizes that the obsessional thoughts, impulses, or images are a product of his or her own mind (not imposed from without as in thought insertion)

Compulsions as defined by (1) and (2):

(1) repetitive behaviors (e.g., hand washing, ordering, checking) or mental acts (e.g., praying, counting, repeating words silently) that the person feels driven to perform in response to an obsession, or according to rules that must be applied rigidly
(2) the behaviors or mental acts are aimed at preventing or reducing distress or preventing some dreaded event or situation; however, these behaviors or mental acts either are not connected in a realistic way with what they are designed to neutralize or prevent or are clearly excessive

B. At some point during the course of the disorder, the person has recognized that the obsessions or compulsions are excessive or unreasonable.

C. The obsessions or compulsions cause marked distress, are time consuming (take more than 1 hour a day), or significantly interfere with the person's normal routine, occupational (or academic) functioning, or usual social activities or relationships.

D. If another Axis I disorder is present, the content of the obsessions or compulsions is not restricted to it (e.g., preoccupation with food in the presence of an Eating Disorders; hair pulling in the presence of Trichotillomania; concern with appearance in the presence of Body Dysmorphic Disorder; preoccupation with drugs in the presence of a Substance Use Disorder; preoccupation with having a serious illness in the presence of Hypochondriasis; preoccupation with sexual urges or fantasies in the presence of a Paraphilia; or guilty ruminations in the presence of Major Depressive Disorder).

E. The disturbance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition.

OCD or just compulsive?

Regarding staying late at work, strategies like re-prioritzing may also help:

"It really comes down to recognizing a need for balance in your life," says Robinson. "Working hard is great, but you need to be able to turn if off and savor the other parts of your life -- friends, family, hobbies, and fun."

Workaholism: The 'Respectable' Addiction - WebMD

Daniel E.
For me, it's more of a feeling than a thinking. Does that make sense?
Yes. A feeling of urgency, for example, is common with compulsions. One can have compulsions without obsessive thinking per se, and one can have obsesive thinking without having compulsions. The Brain Lock method or another behavioral approach could help with compulsions (with or without obsessive thinking). Trying to replace the compulsions with another behavior (step 3 - the Refocus step) may be the most helpful part of the Brain Lock method:

The Refocus step is where the real work is done...In Refocusing, the idea is to work around the OCD thoughts and urges by shifting attention to something else, if only for a few minutes. Early on, you may choose some specific behaviour to replace compulsive washing or checking. Any constructive, pleasant behaviour will do. Hobbies are particularly good. For example, you may decide to take a walk, exercise, listen to music, read, play a computer game, knit, or shoot a basketball.

Another way of thinking of this behavioral approach is that one should actually try to procrastinate by doing something other than the compulsive behavior.

Part of the philosophy behind behavioral therapy is that it is often easier to change behavior than one's feelings, urges, or thoughts. Then, by changing the behavior over time, one's feelings and thoughts will change over time.

In-and-out of therapy, I find that a behavioral approach often helps me the most, whether I have depression, anxiety, or obsessive thinking.


wow. Thanks, Daniel. I know a bit more now, and I understand the 'refocusing' idea, but it's really hard. I've tried not to think about stuff, and reasoning with myself (ie - work isn't due until later and doing it tomorrow is ok), but I just can't seem to leave without feeling guilty or thinking about the work until I'm back in the office the next day and do it. I mean, the only way to get rid of the urge is to do it. Doing something else doesn't help - just prolong the urge. Maybe I need to practice refocusing more.

I'll look for that book.
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