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What Causes Obsessions?

written by: Kristina Dems • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 11/14/2010

What causes obsessions? There is no absolute cause associated with obsessions. Scientists however have pointed out several probable causes among humans.

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    What is Obsession?

    Anxious Obsessions are recurring thoughts, images and impulses that can cause distress to individuals. It can take on various forms. People may have obsessions on images, some may have urges while some have obsessions on ideas and habits. It is closely associated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), a condition wherein a person is into obsessive thinking and compulsive attitude and characterized by depression and anxiety. There have been several factors that have been pointed out as causes of obsessions. Some of these are stress, brain dysfunctions, brain chemicals, and habitual behavior. However there is no single cause that has been pinpointed as the most likely cause of obsession among humans

    The following set of sections are probable points on what causes obsessions.

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    Stress

    Stress has been considered as a factor in obsession and OCD. Stress can make a person vulnerable to fear, anxiety, and obsession. Stressful events like a death of a loved one, divorce, accidents, and illnesses as well as problems at work, school, or in the family can also contribute to symptoms of OCD. Women who have given birth or underwent abortion can also be subject to OCD and obsession. Stress can leave a strong impact on the person, causing him or her to be obsessed at certain things and activities.

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    Brain Dysfunctions

    Brain dysfunctions such as head trauma and encephalitis are also said to trigger obsessions and OCD among individuals. Brain abnormalities particularly in the frontal lobes can cause obsessions. There are specific parts of the brain that give feedback in order to prevent a person from doing a task over again. When a specific part of the brain is damaged, there is likelihood that the person will have difficulties in stopping obsessions or the urge to perform something.

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    Genetics

    It is estimated that at least 2 out of 10 people with OCD come from families who previously had other family members having the said condition. There is a likelihood that the symptoms of a child with obsession problems are the same with a parent or grandparent. Most of the time, however, the symptoms differ between generations. Many experts believe that individuals can inherit obsession or OCD through genetics.

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    Brain chemicals

    The human brain produces around 200 brain chemicals, or neurotransmitters. One of these brain chemicals is serotonin. Serotonin as well as other neurotransmitters travels in the brain by going from one nerve cell to another through synapses. Serotonin is also associated with regulating body functions like sleeping, memory and anxiety. Once serotonin is released by a cell, it goes through another cell through a receptor, or a special area in the cell membrane.

    Scientists suggest that there are some receptors that block serotonin from entering cells, leading to a lack of required neurotransmitters in certain parts of the brain.

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    Habitual behavior

    Perhaps the most frequently discussed cause of obsession is that it is a learned behavior. Individuals who have become used to doing things develop a habit out of it, which can potentially lead to an obsession and several symptoms of OCD.

    There are many factors that link to obsession but most are just probable causes. What causes obsessions is still not absolute.

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    References

    http://www.sane.org.uk/AboutMentalIllness/Obsessions

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/tv/obsessions/

    http://www.mindpub.com/art070.htm

    http://www.apns.ca/prob_OCD.html

    Photo Courtesy of Morguefile.com / Supplied by Hotblack


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