There is a great variety of behaviors that develop from the need to try to meet an emotional demand . Multiple types of psychological disorders have the same origin, one of the best known are those behaviors known as compulsion. In this case, by means of a physical action, an attempt will be made to compensate for some type of affective deficiency.

Frustration or dissatisfaction produced by certain stimuli from outside are usually some determining factors for the development of this condition. Initially from a compulsion it provides a pleasant sensation, however experimentation with it has a short period of durability. Therefore, it is here and where the main characteristic of these behaviors arises, it is when the patient begins to practice them repeatedly. 

A compulsion becomes an indispensable means of living. Patients diagnosed with this condition admit not having control over them. They appear suddenly, impulsive and obsessive ; they are fully integrated into the daily life of the patient. However, they also become a limitation due to the fact that they condition all daily activities within the personal or social sphere.

What is compulsion?

Compulsion is a term used in psychoanalysis to refer to the propensity that some people have to develop obsessive behavior. Etymologically, this word has its origin in the Latin word “compulsio” which can be translated as an urgency or literally as “something that is accessed by force.

Compulsions are generally identified through behaviors that are performed in an impetuous and exaggerated manner . It is coiled from a stimulus to which the patient is sensitive reacting in this way.

Experts agree that this psychological disorder usually appears in individuals who do not feel sufficiently satisfied with certain aspects of their personal life. It could also be a consequence of repressed distress and lack of stimulation from everyday activities. 

Compulsions happen automatically without you having control over them. When the patient puts into practice a particular compulsion it provokes a pleasure that as a result he will want to experience again and again. It can also be defined as a means that allows them to deal with stress and anxiety, because it provides a certain sense of tranquility and momentary control, it becomes a vicious circle from which it is difficult to get out.

How are they identified? 

Compulsions can be described from two different psychological approaches. The first of them three from Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis and the second from cognitive behavioral symbology. In the first case, within the scope of psychoanalysis, a compulsion is identified by the repetitive behavior used as a means of exit when faced with frustration. In this way , satisfaction is obtained in a passionate and unconscious way .

Then a compulsion becomes an addictive tactic used to compensate for the inability to give a positive response to an emotional desire. The subject depends on this experience to keep him safe and away from the true source of his frustration. 

From the cognitive behavioral perspective in psychology, a compulsion is considered to be a way of suppressing content stored in the unconscious. Then you are referring to a behavior or mental act that will be transformed into a repetitively practiced ritual. The purpose is that the person can deal semi-consciously with a particular problem.

Because the patient develops dependence, it can be repeated as often as necessary, eventually it also begins to significantly damage the quality of life, becoming a limitation. Compulsions do not allow you to perform normal tasks or plans. 

What are its most common symptoms? 

Patients do not perceive these obsessive behaviors by themselves, therefore they do not believe that the inability to control these actions is an inability. In the same way, it will be to them to accept the worsening of their quality of life. The most frequent symptoms in cases of obsessive compulsive disorder where compulsions are manifested. They are as follows:

  • Frequent rituals are practiced such as washing hands or also checking on door locks for example.
  • They tend to experience a need for being in an orderly environment. For this reason, they are obsessed with keeping all objects perfectly aligned, following symmetrical organizations, for example.
  • In everyday life they integrate rituals such as walking following the same steps in the same sequence. Rituals of another type such as checking the contents of a bag following the same order They also become a necessity, when put into practice they give them a feeling of security and tranquility .

But it is also necessary to mention that some individuals will develop more particular or personal behaviors and actions . This depends on the need to be satisfied or instead on the amount of anxiety or time the patient is experiencing. This means that there is a wide variety of compulsions, all of them share the characteristic that they must be performed daily by following a series of steps in the same order.

What are their characteristics? 

Compulsions are generally characterized by repetitive and obsessive behaviors. This implies that people will carry out certain types of rituals that will be fully integrated into their daily lives. It is here where daily compulsions should be described, which are routine activities that are constantly carried out, such as cleaning, sleeping or playing sports.

There are also recreational or playful compulsions , these are characterized by starting as a means used to distract or have fun. However, eventually one of these becomes a compulsive daily routine, because the patient feels that it is necessary to carry it out. The difficulty with this type of compulsion is that its practice can hinder the sense of reality, obligations and other responsibilities inherent in life.

The most traditional compulsions are those that have been called the repetition compulsion . The main factor to be identified in this case is that they face other daily activities because they increase adrenaline, thus becoming an addiction.

Similarly, it is important to mention that compulsions are direct reactions to certain situations or objects as well as people. These are developed as a need that provides satisfaction, this sensation has a short period of durability. Both men and women have the same probability of developing this condition, sometimes it is used to try to hide frustrations or anguish .

Examples of compulsion 

One of the most common examples of compulsion is to constantly wash your hands . They are usually related to individuals who have difficulties coping with dirt and are obsessed with avoiding getting sick. In the same way, mention should be made of those that objects are constantly ordered following strict rules of order and symmetry. In both cases, the need to try to maintain control over what happens in the environment can be appreciated.

Also a compulsion becomes a resource that momentarily allows to control the emotions. This is the case of those individuals who are constantly listening to music, watching television, surfing the Internet, gambling, consuming alcohol or drugs. Eventually it becomes an essential activity , the only means that provides them satisfaction and tranquility at the same time.

In some other cases, people develop adrenaline addiction , thereby adopting compulsions characterized by being very dynamic in their daily lives. This is the case of the practice of some type of sport in particular, especially those that are highly competitive.

But the most serious types of compulsion are those that fall into the category of repetition compulsions. In this case, it is observed that these patients constantly check door locks, gas keys, window locks or electrical installations, for example. The need to control and be informed about what is happening in the environment is observed, it is about preserving personal safety which becomes an obsession.

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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