Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Obsession/Compulsion To Control

"Of all men's miseries, the bitterest is this, to know so much and to have control over nothing."  Herodotus

Humans have various kinds of power needs.  For some, it is a need for autonomy.  Parents and teachers want and need control over children in their care.  CEO's require power at the office.  Presidents need power over their parties as well as powerful influence over Congress and their constituents.

There is, of course, the infamous control freak who is driven right up the wall because he/she can't tell everyone around him what to do.  Well, that doesn't stop him from trying.  God help the person who needs autonomy -- power and control of oneself and one's environment -- when they come into the clutches of a control freak.  We're talking "frick" and "frack" -- nitro and glycerin.

We also have people with emotional problems or other handicaps who need controlled environments to feel secure and in control of themselves.  Think the Rainman here.

But there is a level of control needs that fits under the category of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).  Basically, OCD has it roots in insecurity.  The person who checks and rechecks whether the gas is off and the doors locked doesn't trust her memory.  Perhaps experience has taught her not to trust it.  Perhaps there is a genetic or chemical dysfunction. 

There are others with a kind of OCD that is less obvious, but perhaps even more destructive.  Some people labeled perfectionistic would fall into this category.  Their houses have to be the biggest, prettiest, or worse, the cleanest.  Their children have to be the brightest, best educated, the best athletes.  They have to have the most friends or the best hobbies. They have to be the alpha male or alpha female of their world.  Not succeeding in these endeavors incites more insecurity and more clutching for power.  Failure at it often leads to drug usage or excessive drinking which then leads to less assertiveness but more need to control.

OCD is a treatable disorder.  Some cases are so bad that medication is needed.  With others, one can learn the trust and be taught the security needed to arrest, if not cure, the illness.  In fact the illness labeled OCD, though recently named in the history of the world, is a condition dealt with in the Bible.  In a variation of the words of an old song, "Let go and let God. . .",  II Samuel 23:33 states, "God is my strength and my power. . .".

As Herodotus said, man has control over nothing, not the winds, rain, sun, crops, or others.  Frustrating, but true.  So, in other words, turn it over.

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