No one enjoys feeling guilty. But when a person has a debilitating fear to harm others, so severe that it affects their daily life, it could be a serious medical condition.
Many have adopted the notion that vulnerability to mental health problems isn't only about being prone to certain emotions, low moods, and anxiety, but rather how we respond to these emotions. A recent study has shed a new light on the mystery of obsessive-compulsive disorder. People who are highly guilt-sensitive might be vulnerable to some forms of OCD.
Reports revealed that the prevalence of obsessive-compulsive disorder in the general population is roughly 2 percent. People suffering from OCD get stuck into a cycle of obsessive thoughts and performing compulsive rituals to relieve oneself of anxiety. The intrusive thoughts are often related to the fear of losing control, harming others and oneself, contracting diseases through contamination, or having inappropriate religious or sexual thoughts. The compulsive behavior, which comes in forms of compulsive washing, counting, arranging and ordering, is the person's response to the unwanted, intolerable thoughts. Because temporary relief is obtained from such compulsive acts, the person will again resort to these compulsions the next time they are plagued by intrusive thoughts.
A study published in the journal of Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy implies that people with OCD find guilt intolerable compared to most people. Any thought or urge that causes guilt is coupled with increased anxiety and a strong sense of responsibility to rid oneself of the mental obsessions. The study highlights that being guilt-prone is not the main point of developing OCDbut being highly sensitive to guilt. A person prone to guilt may not find the feeling intolerable like those with high guilt sensitivity.
According to Dr. Gabrielle Mellie, the lead author of the said study, previous research studies focused on the subjects' inclination to the feeling of guilt and failed to identify its role in the disorder. The Italian researcher further stressed that the compulsive rituals and avoidance behavior practiced by OCD sufferers are motivated by the need to rid themselves of such emotions in the future. It runs parallel to the involvement of "fear of fear" in panic disorders.