Obsessions and compulsions

Hypnotherapy can be very effective with obsessions and compulsions – often, confusingly known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD. OCD pulls together two quite different conditions, and if you are experiencing either of them it can help to know the difference.

The Difference Between Compulsions and Obsessions

Imagine a person with a compulsion to clean their car. They spend a weekend morning outside washing the car, and, once finished, step back and feel good straightaway about what they’ve done. They stop thinking about having to wash the car – and they’ve transformed their dirty, dusty car into a satisfyingly clean one.

With an obsession however, that person would brood, obsess and ruminate about the car, the thoughts occurring more and more frequently until they almost take over. But there is no reward for getting on and performing the job – no satisfaction, nothing; before long, the brooding and obsessing returns.

So there is the difference – with a compulsion, the sufferer feels better in that moment, whereas with an obsession, the sufferer has succeeded only in dismissing the obsessive thoughts for a short while.


Obsessions are repetitive thoughts, or ideas that come to fill a person’s mind. Although they can be suffered by people of any age or sex, people who are already somewhat perfectionist in temperament are especially prone.

Here are some of the signs of obsession and obsessional behaviour:

  • Counting rituals
  • Checking things over and over again – locks, for example
  • Irrational rituals like avoiding walking on cracks in the pavement
  • Negative thoughts or worries that just won’t go away
  • Problems with sleeping over a long period of time
  • Concerns over dirt or contamination
  • Hand washing, over and over, but never quite feeling clean
  • Worrying too much about diseases or potential symptoms (that transfer from one thing to the next quite rapidly)
  • Jealousy within relationships

There’s often the thought, for instance, that if some job or task doesn’t get done, then something bad is going to happen. It’s hard/impossible to just stop worrying, and if you aren’t worried about one thing, you soon find yourself worrying about another. Not worrying doesn’t feel safe.


By contrast, with compulsions, you do find some reward or satisfaction and release for a while. Compulsions are prone to become stronger the more stress the sufferer is under, and the sufferer will often feel guilt about what they are doing – “I’ll be different tomorrow”.

Here are some classic signs of compulsive behaviour:

  • Heavy or out of control drinking
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Binge or comfort eating
  • Biting nails
  • Gambling or drug use
  • Self-injury, cutting or burning


Cambridge Hypnotherapy Clinic
77 Harlton Road
Little Eversden
CB23 1HD.

Telephone me on : 01223 263683
Mobile: 0776 2229500

Or email me at julietemerson@gmail.com