Therapy Can Work

Katherine Rabinowitz, LP, M.A., NCPsyA

Licensed Psychotherapist & Psychoanalyst
Union Square area, Greenwich Village, New York, NY

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Therapy Can Work

Katherine Rabinowitz, LP, M.A., NCPsyA

Licensed Psychotherapist & Psychoanalyst
Union Square area, Greenwich Village, New York, NY

Are you OCD? Have you been called “anal?” Are they the same? Read more to find out.

You’re so, like, Anal!

No, I’m not, I have OCD. Actually, I don’t have OCD, I have CDO, which is kind of like OCD, except in alphabetical order, the way it should be…

That’s the joke, anyway. And in common speech today, anal and OCD are often used interchangeably. If you’ve been called “anal,” it probably refers to your tendency to want everything to be orderly, done the correct way (that is, your way), have a need for control, a wish or need to control interpersonal situations and a tendency towards perfectionism. You might also be a bit of a neat freak. But that doesn’t mean you have OCD.

What’s the difference between OCD and being “anal?”

There’s actually a big difference between OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder, and being “anal,” which is really OCPD, or obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. The former is an anxiety disorder, the latter a personality disorder.

OCPD isn’t really a problem unless it’s so exaggerated it gets in your way of living life and interferes with your personal interactions with other people. In fact, it can be helpful to be devoted to work, deploying your superb organizational skills, completing tasks always on time and efficiently, accomplishing things, being economical. It gets you somewhere. You probably don’t see that as problematic. You’re proud of your accomplishments, your attention to detail, your stance on the high moral ground. As you should be.

But if or when it gets out of control, when you become so rigid and inflexible that you find your friends avoiding you (and you don’t understand why), or you’re so devoted to your job that you begin to sacrifice life outside your work, find having fun difficult if not distasteful, then you might want to start to examine how to mitigate that a bit, soften those sharp edges a little.

OCD, on the other hand, doesn’t have the same acceptability in your mind. More likely than not, it causes great distress. It’s an anxiety disorder, after all. Whether you’re plagued with intrusive thoughts in your head that you can’t get rid of (even though you know they’re ridiculous), or finding yourself absolutely compelled to perform certain rituals to ward off some unknown evil, try as you might not to, this disorder tends to get worse. The compulsive act or acts temporarily relieve the anxiety, but then all of a sudden, five times is not enough and you have to do them seven times. Or add a new one, just for insurance. And eventually it can take over your whole life, making you miserable. You hate being this way, but you just can’t stop.

Take a moment to jump to the links on the topic in the site and see where you fit in. Or don’t. Maybe you’re not so anal or OCD after all. Maybe you just need someone to talk to.

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