What are the psychological effects of obsessive neurosis?
A review of the emotional and behavioral consequences of obsessive neurosis.
A good part of the psychological disorders that lead people to seek professional help in psychotherapy has to do with problems of managing emotions. Among these emotional maladjustments, some can be considered neuroses, although this term is very broad and groups together a wide variety of mental phenomena and behavior patterns.
In this article we are going to focus on what is known as obsessive neuroses, to see what the typical psychological effects of these are.
What does the word neurosis mean?
The word neurosis has been used in the clinical setting since the 18th century when the Scottish physician William Cullen used this word to refer to what certain patients experienced with alterations in their way of moving and experiencing moods, which apparently were caused by dysfunctions in the nervous system.
However, it was at the beginning of the 20th century when this word acquired importance in the world of psychological care for patients, thanks to Sigmund Freud and the more or less direct followers of his theories and psychodynamic approach to the human mind, such as Carl Jung. These authors defined neurosis above all as an inability to emotionally adjust to the environment and social contexts of everyday life.
Thus, if psychosis was a psychiatric disorder that implied a cognitive, emotional, and perceptual disconnection with reality, neurosis mainly affected emotions and its impact on people’s quality of life was not considered so radical, in most cases. Neurosis patients who attended the specialist consultation were not unable to fully understand what was happening around them, but their emotional response to day-to-day events caused problems for them and for the people around them: for example, through unjustified outbursts of anger, a very intense fear of abandoning the protection of the family, the tendency to cry a lot for no apparent reason, etc.
However, although the term neurosis was used as a diagnostic category in the first editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the line of diagnostic manuals most used in the field of mental health, today it is no longer used officially, in favor of other more specific terms when describing the symptoms of psychopathologies. But that does not mean that in certain cases it is not useful as a conceptual shortcut to talk about certain cases in which a typical clinical picture is seen relatively frequently among psychotherapy or psychiatric care patients.
Main psychological effects of obsessive neurosis
As we have seen, the concept of neurosis has very diffuse limits and is currently rather in disuse in favor of other terms that refer to psychological disorders detailed in the diagnostic manuals used in psychiatry and clinical psychology today. day (among other things, because the symptoms of each of them are much more concrete).
For example, some of the psychopathologies that overlap with the concept of neurosis are Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Phobias, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Intermittent Explosive Disorder, and more.
However, it is still possible to refer to the different types of neuroses to roughly describe the psychological alterations that some patients present, and the possible causes behind them.
Bearing this in mind, what does obsessive neurosis consist of?
An obsessive neurosis is a form of neurosis characterized by recurring thoughts that “catch” over and over the person’s consciousness. The problems that it gives rise to may have to do with the fear of something happening (a hypothetical scenario that comes to the person’s mind constantly and at inappropriate times, causing a great emotional disturbance) and/or with the tendency to constantly fantasize about the same thing, separating the person from their responsibilities and the possibility of having a satisfactory social life.
In any case, in most cases, these obsessive thoughts give rise to stress or anxiety, either because of the discomfort that these ideas or mental images produce or because of the psychological tension that they generate when putting the person in a state of “” alert “(for example, feeling frustrated that you are not living what you fantasize about and looking for opportunities to move from wishes to reality).
Now that we have seen the general characteristics of obsessive neurosis, let’s see in a little more detail what its psychological effects are on those who develop this disorder.
1. Produces psychological rumination
Rumination is one of the key elements of obsessional neurosis. As the name suggests, this alteration is based on obsessions, recurring thoughts that appear in the person’s mind over and over again. This makes the person attentive to the possible appearance of these ideas or mental images, learning to fear those unpleasant experiences so that a vicious circle occurs.
2. A feeling of lack of control over one’s actions appears
The person with obsessive neurosis has trouble repressing the impulse to alleviate the discomfort generated by the obsessions by performing certain actions, which become routine. In this way, their day-to-day life is increasingly limited by the need to perform these rituals more and more frequently.
3. It leads to inappropriate anxiety management strategies
The way in which people with obsessive neurosis try to alleviate their discomfort usually reinforces the problem, by providing momentary relief but, at the same time, predisposing to the constant appearance of these recurring thoughts.
For example, biting the nails to “eliminate” the feeling of having done something wrong makes the nails look worse and the person has a constant reminder of what led them to bite them.
4. Limits the person’s social life
Another of the psychological effects of obsessive neurosis is that it becomes more difficult to connect with others to the point of creating solid affective bonds, due to the tendency to introspection or/and rituals to alleviate the discomfort of people who present this disturbance.
What are the psychological effects of obsessive neurosis?