Woman’s Unusual Obsessive Compulsion

Marlene, 28, says she began experiencing an overwhelming compulsion to stare at other people’s private parts more than a year ago. Since then, she has lost her job and has become fearful of interacting with others. She says her embarrassing compulsion makes it difficult for her to focus during a conversation and makes her feel ashamed. She has tried medication, acupuncture, prayer and breathing exercises to help her overcome her disorder but says she continues to feel the compulsion. 

 “I know right from wrong,” Marlene says. “And yet, I can’t stop it.”

The Doctors send Marlene to licensed psychotherapist Dr. Mike Dow to discuss her obsessive compulsive disorder and determine potential treatment options. Dr. Dow explains that Marlene’s compulsion could stem from a strong desire to not objectify people. He explains that the fear of objectifying others can become overwhelming, resulting in her performing the behavior she fears most.

“What we resist persists,” urologist Dr. Jennifer Berman explains.

Obsessive compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by unwanted and intrusive thoughts, called obsessions, and behavioral or mental rituals, called compulsions. While the cause of OCD is unclear, those with a family history of the disorder or who have experienced traumatic or stressful events have an increased risk of developing OCD.

Dr. Dow recommends Marlene continue to work with him using mindfulness-based cognitive therapy to help her cope with her compulsion and regain a sense of normalcy and control in her life.

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