Compulsive behaviours and disorders are normally linked with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). However, in the IAPH, we have found it more useful to separate compulsive behaviours from obsessive behaviours as their impact upon people’s lives and the way in which they are experienced is quite different.
Normally a compulsive behaviour is one that is undertaken without thought, on impulse or with a sense of having been ‘compeled’ to it and instant relief is felt. There may be some feelings or emotions of guilt or shame felt afterwards, but an immediate sense of relief is felt.
To some degree OCD-type symptoms are probably experienced at one time or another by most people, especially in times of stress, however the illness can have a totally devastating effect on work, social life and personal relationships. The World Health Organisation (WHO) ranks OCD as the tenth most disabling illness of any kind, in terms of lost earnings and diminished quality.