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1. a recurrent, unwanted, and distressing (ego-dystonic) urge to perform an act.
2. a compulsive act or ritual; a repetitive and stereotyped action that is performed to ward off some untoward event, although the patient recognizes that it does not do so in any realistic way. It serves as a defensive substitute for unacceptable unconscious ideas or impulses. Failure to perform the compulsive act gives rise to anxiety and tension. Common compulsions involve hand-washing, touching, counting, and checking. adj., adj compul´sive. See also obsessive-compulsive.
repetition compulsion in psychoanalytic theory, the impulse to reenact earlier emotional experiences.
Etymology: L, repetere, to repeat
an unconscious need to revert to and repeat earlier situations, behavior patterns, and acts to experience previously felt emotions or relationships. See also compulsion.