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Obsession or Perfection?

Posted January 18, 2021

People commonly claim OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) for behaviors that are preferences, not compulsions. However, there is a difference between having OCD and liking things the way we want them, aka “perfectionism.” Compulsions are a repetitive behavior in response to unwanted and intrusive thoughts and impulses (obsessions). The purpose of a compulsive act is to reduce anxiety or quell a specific fear. People who suffer from OCD feel powerless to prevent these thoughts and behaviors and are usually unable to think of or do anything else until the compulsive behavior is enacted. Perfectionism is the desire to do something until it is done to an individual’s standards, but not to repeat the action or to resolve unrelated anxiety.

There’s no cure for OCD but you may be able to manage how your symptoms affect your life. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help change your thinking patterns. In a form called exposure and response prevention, your doctor will put you in a situation designed to create anxiety or set off compulsions. You can learn to lessen and then stop your OCD thoughts or actions. Plains Area Mental Health is here for you.  Please contact one of our offices or take our free on-line assessment on this website.

P.S. Perfectionism is a personality trait, not a disorder, but it can turn into obsessive compulsive disorder when allowed to reach an extreme level and create a connection to anxiety and fear.

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