What is a Compulsion?
Aulsion has two main components:
- an unpleaser triggering thought that repeatedly activates our unconscious attention mechanism accompanied by
- an emotional response generated within the body that makes us feel we need to do something.
A compulsion is the urge to do something preventative in regards to a potential threat. This can be felt physically as a lifting sensation just below the chest area – it seems to come from the stomach. It is very strong; very unwanted; and as a result of being unwanted is seen as unpleasant, painful and often interpreted as 'abnormal'.
We can have compulsions in regards to very simple representations – simple images or words – behind which sit more complex reflections – scenarios in which we have strong imagery of things we value, or wish to protect, being harmed or destroyed.
Trouble is, because the scenario exists only in our minds, there is nothing we can do physically. Without, that is, you come to regard just feeling as something you do .
In a bid to calm the urge 'to do' for a while we may carry out physical rationalistic acts that reduce the tension – but the urge returns again and again because our unconscious knows the main task still remains undone. We have not completed the 'doing cycle' it requires us to do to the point our Unconscious can see the task as done and will then let the thoughts and feelings related to the feared threat go by just like our other thoughts do.
Compulsions can seem appear from now but they may be supported by a foundation of prolonged anxiety or anger about the area of concern that has been there for some time. The person becomes more and more sensitized to the issue in much the same way we do to a real-life external negative event that keeps recurring.
This repeated urge to do meets with a repeated 'there is nothing to do!' argument from our logical thinking mind (our left neo-cortex) which refutes the impulse to move towards the compiling imagery because the notion of physically doing when there is nothing to physically do looks completely illogical.
Is OCD related to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
I believe it is. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a condition in which a person has been through a real-life event and has produced such an intense, overwhelming emotional response that they are unable to process the response at the time of the event.
The event may be a one-off thing or a long-term series of related incidents that challenges our understanding of life and who we are in relation to that life. In PTSD the healing process involves the person re-entering their recurring memories of the real-life experience and re-negotiating their route through the experience; through their thoughts, feelings and interpretations; to a point they feel they can let go of it. Most of this work involves the imagination.
I would suggest the only difference between PTSD and obsessions / OCD is that one is initiated by real-life events where the other is based on primarily imagined events with a real-life anxiety creating background leading up to it.
Our Unconscious Does Not Know the Difference Between Real and Imagined Events
Because we logically know an imagined event is not real we tend to invalidate it – we say 'it did not really happen and therefore the excuse to go and undo the imagined event should not be acknowledged – it should not be there'.
This is what our logical mind says. It is what the logical minds of some brain experts tell us. However, we are not dealing with the logical mind – we are dealing with the workings of the Reptilian, Limbic and right neo-cortex pattern creating minds. We are dealing with emotional energies trapped in the body.
What they want our logical minds to do is not the same thing as what our logical minds think we should do.
What Should We Do when there is Nothing Physically to be Done?
We need to do what our emotional minds need us to do – we need to go into the compulsion, find the Reflection behind it, and, ever so slowly, explore and come to understand what it is that drives it.
Behind the imagination connected to your compulsion; behind the Representation and within the Reflection; you will discover things you are really passionate about; what you care deeply about; what it is in life you want to hold onto.
You need to validate this overly intense experience – accept it – but at the same time feel and release the emotional energy attached to it with a view to removing the intensity. It is the shocking intensity of it that grabs at your attention mechanism rather than the images themselves.
Releasing emotional energy in this way is 'doing'.
At some point you will come out of the other side of the Reflection, having fully explored it, having discharged most of the emotional energy attached to it.
The compilation becomes milder and milder in its attention grabbing affects until one day you see the whole thing as a neutrally charged memory and are able to let go of it.
Regards – Carl