Put simply, if I hear an argument that to me sounds illogical, incomplete, inconsistent or based on a poor factual footing, I will obsess over that argument. I lose sleep. I become difficult. I will yield and stop once the argument establishes what feels like consistency or correctness or a logical impasse (i.e. I don’t need to win, I just need the arguments to make sense). But until that point, I feel like I am going nuts. Topic doesn’t matter, it is the argument itself.

I recognize that the evaluation of the argument is a subjective thing – but that doesn’t matter, I still have the same reaction.

Is this common? Do other people report this? What is the source of it?

A. Some people compulsively wash their hands because they obsess about potential contaminants. Others refrain from stepping on cracks in sidewalks because doing so might bring about negative consequences. There are also those who are compulsive about symmetry. Everything has to be “even.” In your case, you obsess about arguments. There are potentially thousands of compulsions and obsessions, all of which are characteristic of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

OCD is a specific type of anxiety disorder. Individuals with OCD struggle with intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors (compulsions) that if left untreated, significantly disrupt their lives. The latest statistics show that over a one-year period, approximately one percent of the American population has OCD. The average age of onset is 19 years old.

As you noted, this problem causes you to become “difficult.” It’s proof that this problem is disrupting your life.

It would be advantageous to consult a mental health professional. You may not need many sessions to decrease your symptoms. Length of treatment will depend on the severity of the problem. Psychotherapy for OCD typically involves coaching, in regard to tolerating anxiety, and learning more appropriate responses and reactions to situations in which anxiety occurs. Depending on the type of psychotherapy, the therapist may focus on the cognitive thoughts that arise with the compulsion to argue. In some cases, medication is recommended for OCD in combination with psychotherapy. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle