What causes obsessive checking

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Why obsessive checking is a complex disorder

So many people mistakenly think that psychology is a rigid science where 1 + 1 will always equal 2. The one thing that defines psychology and makes it different than many other sciences is that it's a science of multiple causalities.

What is meant by that is that the same disorder can happen for so many different reasons or a certain combination of some of those reasons. In psychology you can't just say that a certain behaviour will always lead to a psychological disorder for sometimes more than one factor must come together in order for a disorder to happen.

People who look at psychology from the limited angle of genetics might ignore the fact that genetics alone can never cause a psychological problem before many other factors come into play. See Can genes cause mental illness

The reason i had to start with such an introduction is that obsessive checking is a complex disorder that happens when so many factors come together. Let's examine some of those factors together.

What causes obsessive checking

  • 1) You are ignoring your important worries: In my previous article How to stop checking things over and over i said that obsessive checking might be caused by your mind's desire to remind you of the serious worries that you are already ignoring. In such a case the disorder is nothing more than a reminder of the important things that you have been trying to overlook
  • 2) Lack of tolerance to uncertainty: The more you are intolerant to uncertainty and the more you want everything to be certain the more likely you are to develop OCD or a related disorder. See Dealing with uncertainty
  • 3) The desire to be in control: Just like i said earlier, None of those factors alone can cause the problem but it's the certain combination of some of those factors that causes it. The desire to be in control is certainly one of the factors that can contribute to the compulsive checking problem. See The desire to be in control promotes worrying
  • 4) Feelings of lack of control: This factor when combined with the previous factor can significantly increase the chance of OCD. When a person who needs to be in control feels helpless they might start checking things in an obsessive manner. This is why stress, feelings of helplessness and hard times can make a person become an obsessive checker
  • 5) Perfectionism: Perfectionism is a serious problem. While a certain degree of quality control should be applied still over doing it usually results in an OCD problem. See How perfectionism develops

Is this everything?

Of course no. Just as i said so many factors can contribute to a certain disorder and in each case those factors might be different.

So the important question is, how can someone get rid of a psychological disorder?
The first step you need to do is to find out the specific factors that led to that disorder. Note that those factors might be unique to you.

The psychological disorder exists because of all of those factors combined and so the good news i have is that removing one of those factors will certainly help you get rid of the disorder.

In other words if the disorder was caused by 5 factors and you removed 2 of them then there is a great chance that the disorder will disappear for good.

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