Obsessive Hand Washing - at the Source of Compulsion | Health 2019

Obsessive Hand Washing - at the Source of Compulsion | Health 2019

Morbid, obsessive hand washing, most of us know from films about nervous people. However, this condition can affect almost anyone if circumstances help it. Today we know a lot about this disorder. A compulsion to wash your hands - you should know.
Obsessive Hand Washing - at the Source of Compulsion | Health 2019

Is compulsion to wash your hands an obsession? The majority of healthy people experience the obsession. This is a common phenomenon: some melody repeats in our minds, we doubt whether we have closed the car or the door of the apartment, we care too much about cleanliness, etc. However, most of us think of these results from specific life situations, they have causes external, do not interfere in life, do not take time and we are able to suppress them or distract them if we actually try to do it.


A sick obsession with chastity, washing hands, however, may take an extreme form when the skin of the hand begins to get sick and the hands are washed repeatedly within an hour. Such an operation also seems completely meaningless - after all, hands are certainly clean.

Hand washing: symbolic meaning

Why do people feel the need to wash their hands, or wash them at all, even if they are certainly pure? To understand this phenomenon, one must look at the importance of washing itself. In common consciousness, washing is more than just getting rid of dirt. It is also a symbolic gesture in our culture. For example, Pilate washed his hands after he handed Jesus over to the crowd. Piłat's gesture is read as "I do not want to have anything to do with it, I cut myself off from this injustice, I am clean." Lady Macbeth also felt compelled to wash her hands after helping her husband kill the king.

Washing hands: a ritual of purification

Zygmunt Freud already claimed that by washing his hands, we wash dirty deeds. In his opinion, sometimes we try to cleanse the soul by cleansing the body. A bit on the principle: "when you have a dirty conscience, you care too much about cleanliness, you feel compulsion to wash yourself." Today's research confirms the intuition of a genius psychologist. For example, in a certain experiment, a group of people was asked to write their own history, which contained immoral, "ugly" content. At the same time, the second group rewrote stories containing moral content.

Obsessive Hand Washing - at the Source of Compulsion | Health 2019

Then everyone was to assess how much they would like to have items of similar value (cleaning products, small electronics, etc.). It turned out that those who had previously rewritten immoral content, much more often wanted to get soap, disinfectant or tissues than those who were prescribed moral stories!

The differences between the groups were so large that in no way could they be attributed to their case. Such a desire worked a bit on the principle of "hungry bread in mind": those who felt defiled thinking about immoral content, more wanted objects that could purify them. It seems that they treated body washing as a "remedy" for the "dirty thoughts" that appeared in them during the experiment.

You are washing the body - you are washing the soul

Psychologists have discovered one more interesting fact: body washing really soothes unpleasant emotions! How do we know that? In another experiment, people were asked to think about some of their bad, immoral deeds. It turned out that then almost three-quarters of them helped an "accidental" unknown person who happened to something bad. The respondents did so because they wanted to restore the conviction that they are good people, a conviction that was compromised by the remembrance of the wickedness they had once done.

It turned out, however, that if after the remembrance of their immoral act they had the opportunity to wash their hands or even wipe them with an antiseptic handkerchief, the willingness to help was almost completely gone (only every tenth person helped!)

The result of the experiment is a great proof that washing hands "erases" remorse and feeling of being a sinful person. When people experience guilt, shame, disgust, regret, etc., cleaning (also cleaning) actually eases the intensity of these feelings. Unfortunately, this is why care for cleanliness can become a disease.
Obsessive Hand Washing - at the Source of Compulsion | Health 2019

For many people, thinking of something vile or sinful is just as shameful as filthy action. If someone has very strict moral convictions, they will feel dirty, even if they think of something bad. And that our psyche has its own rules, it sometimes happens that mean thoughts come to our heads alone, without our conscious participation. Nevertheless, they still have the power to pursue the desire to purify themselves, and ultimately man only feels the compulsion to wash himself. If these unwanted thoughts are in our head a lot, washing can become a destructive force.

Can it be cured?

Sigmund Freud was convinced that the condition for healing is to recognize, realize and accept his true desires. There are no bad desires or bad feelings, only bad deeds. Desires and thoughts

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