We have already seen, in other posts that I have published on this site, that significant and protracted childhood trauma can put the individual who suffers it at higher risk of developing various psychiatric problems later on in life, including obsessive-compulsive disorder.
In this particular article, however, I will concentrate upon a variant of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) called relationship obsessive-compulsive disorder (ROCD); in those afflicted by this psychological condition, the individual’s obsessive-compulsiveness is centred around a relationship with another person (this relationship may be current or in the past).
What Are The Symptoms Of Relationship Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (ROCD)?
The person suffering from ROCD experiences chronic, distressing, intrusive thoughts, images and urges that are not wanted and that interfere with the individual’s day-to-day functioning. Often, too, these obsessive thoughts/images/urges contravene the individual’s conscious beliefs, values and moral principles.
When particular urges/images/thoughts arise, the individual may feel compelled and driven to carry out certain behaviours/actions in an (irrational) attempt to prevent these urges/images/thoughts from leading to some dreaded consequences and to reduce anxiety.
Obsessions connected to relationships that the ROCD sufferer may experience :
- whether they really love their partner or not / whether or not they are ‘right’ to love their partner
- whether their partner really loves them or not (e.g. the individual with ROCD may constantly seek reassurances, their partner’s approval etc.) / whether their partner is ‘right’ to love them
- whether or not they are in the ‘right’ relationship
- whether their partner is having an affair / being unfaithful
- intense anxiety about ending a relationship
- intense focus upon the partner’s faults (as opposed to concentrating on the good in him/her)
- constantly thinking (despite the relationship being good) they could be missing out on the opportunity of finding someone better
- constantly fearing they’re not good enough for their partner and it is only a matter of time before s/he realizes this
Possible causes of ROCD :
Various factors may combine and interact with one another to cause ROBT; these include :
Cognitive – dysfunctional styles of thinking.
Biological – there may be a genetic component. Also, there may be chemical, structural and/or functional abnormalities in the brain.
Psychodynamic – fear of abandonment stemming from childhood or from low self-esteem stemming from childhood trauma.
Possible Treatment For Relationship OCD :
These include :
- cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
- mindfulness-based cognitive behavioural therapy
- exposure response prevention therapy
- anxiety management techniques
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).