I once counseled a woman who suffered from an obsessive/compulsive disorder. Incidentally, that was the only one so afflicted that I worked with, so not as prevalent as one might think, or it could be that it’s not something one cares to discuss with strangers. The idea strikes one as ridiculous, that a person would perform actions not to their benefit over and over again, and obsess over it. On our first session, I had to fight the urge to say, “Just stop doing it!”
I can’t remember her compulsion, but it was ridiculously inane. Nothing harmful, but interfering in her life. The compulsive behavior was a protective amulet shielding her from the world’s negative force. She was addicted to her fears. All addictions basically are a form of getting high on the jolt of fear everyday life supplies us with and embellishing it, sucking every ounce of terror created. In Manhattan, I would see dopers on the trains, in the park, nodding, gone to the world, out of it. Nobody was going to hurt them now!
It is not possible to be without addiction in 21st century society. It is said that our ancestors, the prehistoric cave people lived in a state of dread. So do we, it’s diffused in numerous repetitive actions, words, thoughts. Try going without electric power for a week, a work-week when you really need it. I assure you that you will suffer withdrawal symptoms. You will become depressed, jittery, lethargic. We lost power in my town for 3 days a few weeks ago and what I found difficult to forgo was morning coffee. I just had to have that cup of coffee in the morning. When the situation was cleared up like a benediction from on high, all of a sudden the lights pop on, I immediately fixed myself a cup, and it wasn’t that great. My addiction was to the little ritual of brewing the coffee, pouring a cup, adding cream and sugar and carrying it to my desk. It would protect me from the pitfalls awaiting. These things we do and say are the amulets we wear to protect us from the precarious world we live in. Some need serious protection, and end up destroying themselves in the process.