Psychologist Assoc. Dr. Pervin Nedim Bal, “Obsession, scientifically known as OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder), is a mental illness. Obsessions at the level of thoughts, ideas and impulses are called obsessions, while obsessions at the level of repetitive behaviors and mental actions are called compulsions. We always do obsessive thoughts and behaviors in our daily lives, but when these thoughts and behaviors are so severe and intense that they affect, limit or disrupt our daily functions, this is considered a medical illness. Bal stated that while obsession was rare in the past, this disease has become quite common today.


Assoc. Dr. According to researches, Bal said, “The state of obsession has become visible in 2-3 percent of the society. Obsessions can occur at any age, including young childhood, but are more common in adolescence (12–19 years) and young adulthood (20–30 years). Obsessions are seen higher in women than in men, but in men, it is seen at an earlier age than in women.


Stating that while there are many common obsessions that differ from person to person due to various reasons, Assoc. Dr. “The individual who has this obsession thinks that different substances are contaminated with his hands, body, clothes, home and other environments, and therefore he frequently cleans or washes in order to eliminate this mental distress.”

Assoc. Dr. Bal said, “Another common obsession is control obsession. The individual experiencing this obsession has extreme doubts, for example, whether he leaves the stove on when leaving the house, whether he locks the door or not, whether he pulls the iron out of the electrical outlet, and therefore needs to check again and again to eliminate these intellectual problems and doubts. Also, the person is extremely worried that they may lose control of themselves and harm someone, so they try to keep away from their environment tools that could cause harm to someone else.


Stating that the need for symmetry, order and counting obsessions are also common types of obsessions, and the need for symmetry and the idea of ​​orderliness dominate the individual’s whole life, Assoc. Dr. Bal said, “Therefore, the individual exhibits the behavior of arranging all the objects around him and ensuring that they are symmetrical in order to overcome this intellectual distress. Individuals who are obsessed with counting, on the other hand, think that if they do any daily activity without counting up to a certain number, they think that their work will not be random, and therefore they engage in counting behavior in order to eliminate this intellectual distress. For example, he says ‘God bless you’ three times when seeing off his wife.”


Stating that patients with touch obsession need to touch ‘an item they care about’ before performing certain behaviors, Assoc. Dr. Bal said, “A patient with this obsession is worried that he may face a negative event if he does not touch the photograph of his dead grandmother before going out on the street. Therefore, he goes back home from the bus stop and touches the photo of his grandmother in order to overcome this mental distress.” Finally, in addition to common obsessions, he continued:

“The obsession with hiding is also a common type of obsession. The person collects and hides even the items that will not be necessary with the thought of “may be necessary in the future”. If superstitions, obsessions with auspicious and unlucky numbers and colors are so frequent and intense that they interfere with daily life activities or limit our daily functions, then they are considered at the disease level.”


Stating that there is no definite opinion about the cause of the obsession at the disease level, Assoc. Dr. Bal said, “The frequent occurrence of this disease in the patient’s parents and other first-degree relatives suggests that the disease may be genetic. It is also assumed that impaired brain functions and Serotonin cause obsession. The fact that individuals exposed to childhood traumas (for example, sexual abuse) experience a significant stress in their later life and the obsession emerges immediately after, shows that the early childhood period plays an important role in the development of obsession. Another assumption is personality traits. People who have meticulous, prescriptive, detail-oriented and perfectionist characteristics are considered to be more prone to obsession.


Assoc. Dr. Pervin Nedim Bal stated that obsession is sometimes treated with medication and psychotherapy, and sometimes only with psychotherapy. Bal said, “Cognitive behavioral therapies have a very important place in both the treatment of the disease and the prevention of its recurrence. The aim of cognitive treatments is to reduce the perception of responsibility created by disturbing thoughts. After the identification of cognitive errors, these thoughts that are not functional enough are replaced with more realistic and functional ones, thus reducing the perception of high responsibility. On the other hand, patients’ obsession-causing worrisome thoughts are extinguished, systematic desensitization, overflow, relaxation, etc. It is eliminated with various therapeutic techniques and thus the individual gets rid of obsessive behaviors. As a result, we recommend that individuals consult a psychologist or psychiatrist if obsessive thoughts and behaviors make it difficult, restrict or disrupt our daily life functions, that is, if the obsession is so severe and intense.

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