Obsession with symmetry in obsessive-compulsive disorder

Obsession with symmetry in obsessive-compulsive disorder
Obsession with symmetry in obsessive-compulsive disorder

Many individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder suffer from obsessions regarding the arrangement of objects. Those who suffer with this form of OCD are made to feel uncomfortable when they encounter objects that are asymmetrical, in disarray or improperly aligned. The compulsions associated with this form of obsessions involves reordering or rearranging things so that they are to the liking of the individual. It ought to be kept in mind that this is not a mere personality quirk or idiosyncrasy. Instead, it is a serious psychiatric problem. Those with this form of OCD are more likely to have an earlier onset and are more likely to have other family members with OCD, suggesting that there may be some degree of heritability.

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder may resemble this form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, it ought to be kept in mind that those with OCPD do not suffer from anxiety-producing obsessions. Indeed, their preoccupations are not really obsessions at all. The similarity between this form of OCD and OCPD is, therefore, somewhat superficial. Obsessions that cause the individual distress are known as ego-dystonic obsessions, because the individual knows that these obsessions are irrational and do not wish to suffer from them. Whereas those with OCPD exhibit obsessive-compulsive tendencies as a fundamental part of their personality, the obsessions that those with OCD have, are not seen as part of one’s personality, and are seen as intrusive and unwelcome.

Some obsessions regarding symmetry entail a certain degree of magical thinking. For example, the individual may believe that if one’s bookshelf is ordered properly, it will safeguard against his mother being in a car accident. These obsessions are regarded as ego-dystonic because the sufferer knows that they make no sense. Nonetheless, attempting to resist this logic causes immense anxiety, and the only way of relieving them is to engage in the compulsive behavior associated with it.


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