Home Health What drives our control habits?

What drives our control habits?

'Yes, he had closed the door.' Does it sound? Science tells us why this happens.


Most of us going to sleep suddenly think, “Wait, did I close the house door?” (And we check it even several times). For some people, this may be a completely normal act but, for others, it may show an anxiety disorder. According to experts, the turning point is in being afraid to lose control. 

If we imagine a person who checks that the door of his house is closed a dozen times and goes around his house several times to be completely sure that everything is fine, we are probably facing a case of  obsessive-compulsive disorder (TOC), a type of anxiety disorder characterized by a tremendous obsession with control – trying to control the uncontrollable – and with recurrent and negative thoughts about it.

However, many of us are exposed to sudden explosions of uncertainty. Do we turn off the gas before we go to our vacation? Do we close all the windows of the house? Or worse yet, do we forget one of the little ones at home?

The distractions and the rush to get where we need to go in time, result in these memory lapses  and the sudden shock when we realize that we are not sure if we did everything we should have done. 

New research from the University of Concordia in Montreal (Canada) suggests that this fear of losing control can result in a recurrent control behavior (obsession with control). This, according to experts, can be the core of many anxiety disorders, including OCD.

“We have shown that people who believe they are going to lose control are significantly more likely to show control behavior more frequently“says Adam Radomsky, co-author of the work in the Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders.

” When we treat OCD in the clinic, we can try to reduce the beliefs [of patients] about losing control and that should reduce their symptoms, “says Radomsky.

The experiment

The experts counted 
133 participants recruited from the cohort of undergraduate students who were given fake electroencephalograms – used to measure electrical activity in the brain – by assigning random false comments about their low or high risk of losing control over their brain your thoughts and actions.

Once the volunteers were convinced that they had complete control over themselves or were in danger of losing control, the scientists asked them to complete a computer task that required “controlling the rhythm of the images” by making them disappear before they disappeared. screen.

Nevertheless,What the participants did not know was that they had no real control over the images, which were programmed to move in and out of their sight at specific times.

The scientists found that participants who were convinced they were at greater risk of losing control of their actions engaged in more meticulous control behavior than their peers, who were told they would probably maintain control.

The findings verified the initial work hypothesis of the researchers. “People’s fears and beliefs about losing control can put them at risk for a wide variety of problems, including panic disorder, social phobia, OCD, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and others,” says Radomsky.

According to Radomsky, “this work has the potential to greatly improve our ability to understand and deal with the full range of problems related to anxiety.”


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