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Over-adaptation and the seeming happiness in Obsessive Disorders

Over-adaptation and the seeming happiness in Obsessive Disorders

If you haven’t seen “Django Unchained”, the excellent Quentin Tarantino film, you should. Not just because you’ll have a great time, but also because there is a character who serves as a perfect example of what could be the seemingly happy, though resigned and frustrating, over-adaptation in which many people with obsessive traits or OCD live.

I am referring to Leonardo DiCaprio’s African-American butler, played by Samuel L. Jackson. It wouldn’t constitute a spoiler if I revealed that while DiCaprio is a slave owner and proprietor of a plantation in which there are women and men of colour working in terrible conditions, Jackson’s character is that of his right hand man, “the voice of his master”, living in the same mansion and the scourge of the slaves who are the same race as him. He appears to be one of the gang of masters but he knows deep down that he is still a “black man” to those who concede him said status and privileges.

Slave Traders

In a symbolic sense, though there are clear differences, some people who have an obsessive disorder adopt a servile and adaptive attitude to their “slave traders”, with the difference that the latter, sometimes, treat them with kid gloves provided that the former don’t diverge from the norms put down by them.

For example, in some areas of Spain and South America the family with its inevitable implications is an almost invasive presence in the lives of individuals: parents, children, wives, husbands, siblings, cousins, in-laws, extended family… immersed in the cliches and the customs and manners of these more traditional lifestyles, many people feel incapable of being themselves within this tangled mess of interactions in which individuality and its components are not given room to appear.

We could say that many live well or even very well like this, enjoying the friendliness and the support, some of it economic, of this spiderweb. But pity those who dare to question the status quo of their entourage or dare to be free by taking initiatives which are incomprehensible to others.

Happy slaves

In modern societies there are many happy slaves, who will never question what they truly feel, think, what are their feelings and their deepest desires. Immersed in a sentimental and suffocating network, they stop taking the initiative for fear of the blackmail which would befall them should they opt to be themselves.

Sincerely now, how many of you are fed up with the repetitive customs and manners, of this “fear of life” which underlies so much dependence? No one should confuse this with egotism or lack of solidarity, it’s not about that but about being able to understand and defend one’s own needs, one’s perspective with regards to the apparent comfort which comes from adaptive resignation.

For my book “Freeing the monkey, saving the princess”, I wrote a fairytale in which a queen has to make a decision which could put her life at risk. In our existences we are not normally faced with such occurrences, but those who are not ready to risk a little to be free of the tranquil paralysis will not have the opportunity to be free from his most deep-rooted conflicts.

Damián Ruiz

Clinical Psychologist

Jungian Analyst

Director of IPITIA