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Compulsive Disorders and
Other Afflictions

People seek treatment for a wide variety of disorders and compulsive behaviors, sometimes occurring in tandem with substance abuse but often just as debilitating in their own right. The more prevalent and well-known of these disorders include:

Codependency: People who are codependent often take on the role as a martyr or victim – they consistently put the needs of other people in their lives before their own. Often this takes on such a role that the individual forgets to take care of themselves. Their behaviors are formed around a strong desire to feel “needed”. Co-dependents cannot stand the thought of being alone, with no one requiring their presence in order to function. Codependents are constantly in search of acceptance, to the point of subjugating their needs for those of someone else, often a spouse or loved one. The affliction can reach the point that when they actually do stand up for themselves, they feel guilty.

Hoarding: This disorder may actually be a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, on in which the perceived importance of collected items far exceeds their true value. Houses belonging to hoarders can become hazardous (because of blocked exits and stacked papers) or unhealthy (in terms of vermin infestation, detritus from pets, hoarded food or garbage) or just excessively cluttered (with the risk of stacks of items collapsing or blocking entryways). An intervention or visit from a therapist who brings a regimented approach to re-organizing the life on the hoarding individual often proves helpful.

Impulse Control Disorder: A blanket term for the set of psychiatric disorders including intermittent explosive disorder, kleptomania, pathological gambling, pyromania (fire-starting). The term also includes three body-focused repetitive behaviors; trichotillomania (a compulsion to pull one’s hair out), onychophagia (compulsive nail biting) and dermatillomania (compulsive skin picking). Individuals exhibiting these behaviors can sometimes be thought of as seeking a small, short term gain at the expense of a large, long term loss. All of those afflicted with such disorders repeatedly demonstrate failure to resist their behavioral impulses.

Internet Addictive Disorder: The belief by some professionals is that particular services available over the Internet have unique psychological properties which induce dissociation, time distortion, and instant gratification. Even if this theory is disproved the fact remains that some individuals consistently and compulsively use the internet to the exclusion of all other activities, playing World of Warcraft (as just one example) to the exclusion of all other social activities, even failing to maintain hygiene. Such behavior obviously presents a problem to normal functioning.

Pain Disorders (Complex, Myofascial and Somatic Pain): These are non-specific pain disorders poorly understood by the general population but suffered by a great many Americans. Despite similarities to Fibermyalgia there are different trigger points associated with Myofascial pain symptoms, typically located along the face, neck, and upper body. Both forms are referred to as complex pain syndromes, and are often suffered in silence by a surprising amount of Americans. By entering treatment the men and women who labor under daily pain learn alternative methods (ie; non-prescription) for dealing with the torments of these afflictions.

[ADUNIT]PTSD and Addiction: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder most often refers to the experiences of veterans of the Armed Forces, who upon returning home have difficulty adjusting to the sights and sounds of civilian life. Such difficulties are so pronounced that these individuals very often turn to drugs and alcohol as a means of dulling the jarring discrepancies between their memories and the real world. Many sufferers, both vets and other trauma victims, suffer repeated traumas as they cycle through the symptoms of both PTSD and drug addiction. The recommended treatment involves a program of therapy to process the events, returning the world to one the individual perceives as safe and stable. Eye Movement Desensitization Response has shown promise in delivering such an experience.

Schizophrenia (Multiple Personality Disorder): Schizophrenia is the term for a brain disorder characterized by abnormalities in perceptions of reality. Typically these distortions of perception impair all five senses, though they most commonly manifest as auditory hallucinations, paranoid delusions and disorganized speech. Thinking with a significant social dysfunction is another major feature of the disorder. The traits are often latent, emerging as clearly schizophrenic sometime around the onset of adulthood. Multiple personality disorder is often mistaken for schizophrenia but emerges from a different set of circumstances. The confusion usually occurs when individuals identify multiple personalities as a symptom of schizophrenia. In fact, schizophrenia’s primary aspect is not about multiple personalities, but instead refers to a split mind, one in which senses don’t link properly with reasoning and memory. In contrast, Multiple Personality Disorder forms as individuals create a wide range of different personalities, often as a means of coping with childhood trauma or abuse.

Self Injury, Cutting, & Self Harm: Often adolescents and teenagers with an underlying emotional issue turn to the practice of self-injury as a means to escape their feelings. For such individuals ‘cutting’ can release endorphins, much like exercise or drug use in other populations. Treatments recommended for those seeking to stop the behaviors (or for parents whose children engage in cutting or other self-harming) include opening lines of communication, beginning therapy, and inpatient therapy in the most dire of cases.

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