People often think of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) as involving compulsions related to excessively handwashing or flipping light switches on and off. Although those compulsions are not uncommon, OCD can take many forms.
What is OCD?
OCD is a mental illness that involves suffering from obsessions, which are unwanted and persistent thoughts, images, or urges. After an individual with OCD experiences an obsession, they feel compelled to engage in a compulsion, which is a repetitive behavior or mental act aimed at reducing their anxiety. For example, someone with OCD might have obsessions about getting a terminal illness after contaminating themselves by touching the door knob of a public restroom, which leads to a feeling of intense anxiety. Then, in an effort to reduce the anxiety, the person excessively washes their hands, often to the point of drying and cracking their skin. Often times, the person is aware that the fear is irrational and the handwashing is unnecessarily thorough. However, they feel compelled to act due to their intense anxiety.
What is compulsive speech?
In a recent article in The Mighty, contributor Charli Boyd discusses what she refers to as compulsive speech. She describes it as her obsessive thoughts telling her to say a certain word or phrase in order to ameliorate the obsession. She gave the example of sitting on the couch watching television with her partner and compulsively asking, “Are you okay?” She wrote that she asked 10 to 20 times leading to her partner refusing to continue to answer. When Boyd could no longer get an answer she felt unable cope and began crying.
Boyd also described other examples such as compulsively saying, “Just checking” after asking a question out of a fear of offending someone. She also described compulsively whispering “Help me” about 2o times a day, which she admitted can cause problems when she is in public.
How can I treat my OCD?
Boyd discussed coming to terms with her compulsive speech and even joked about accepting that she compulsively yells, “Shut up” at parties. Although Boyd did not mention if she is working with a mental health professional, many with OCD see significant improvements when engaging in CBT with exposure and response prevention. If the you would like to learn more about effective OCD treatment contact us to schedule a free phone consultation.
Dr. Jason von Stietz specializes in Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Sport/Performance Psychology in Torrance, CA. He provides online therapy (telehealth) by way of the Torrance office and is available for a free initial phone consultation. Dr. von Stietz works with individuals from Long Beach, the greater Los Angeles area, and the South Bay including Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, El Segundo and all over California.