When Fear Rules !

Anger and Contamination Issues

by on Jul.03, 2011, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

One of the most common emotions that is a trigger for panic attacks and obsessive-compulsive behaviors is ANGER. Sometimes we would rather believe that our anxiety symptoms ARE caused by something physical, something we can just take medications for and then they will go away.

But the reality, in my opinion as a therapist, is that most panic and OCD symptoms, while able to be decreased somewhat by medications, are caused by emotional conflicts, issues and people that we have a HABIT of avoiding.

One of my clients who has fought hard to take control of his OCD, and has made significant progress, put it this way: “ I am angry with myself for believing that I am so incompetent, that I cannot do anything right. I use my obsession with contaminating others as an alternative to dealing with this anger with myself ”. This is a great and potentially healing insight on his part. As a child, he perceived that he could do nothing right in the eyes of his father. As a child and adolescent, he did not realize that his father’s
unrealistic expectations and inability to praise were all part of his father’s insecurities which caused him to hide from his fears by demanding of his son. All the son saw and felt was that he was incompetent in the eyes of the father, a perception of self that the son adopted early on and which festered through his adult life.

That anger caused him to feel that there was something WRONG within himself, as anger toward the father, and more deeply toward himself for being weak, caused him to feel “out of control” within his own skin.

Rather than deal with that anger, my client was caught up with his obsessive worry over contamination and his ritualistic behaviors which included hand washing, excessive washing of clothes, or stockpiling clothing that he feared were contaminated, etc.

His obsessions and compulsive behaviors allowed him to ignore the anger brewing within him.

Now, with great effort on his part and a very, very supportive but firm wife, he is taking control of his OCD, but as important, or actually more so, he IS realizing and dealing with his anger both towards his father and himself.
He has made great and significant progress, and as proud of him as we all are, he knows he has more work ahead of him.

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