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(Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)

OCD is a very common disorder affecting almost everyone in the world, some being affected much more than others. First of all I will give a brief definition of OCD. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder causes the brain to get stuck on one particular urge or thought that can't easily be let go. People with OCD often call it a case of, "mental hiccups that won't go away." Everyone has this condition in one way or another. For instance, a man might go into a bathroom and flush the toilet with his foot so he won't have to touch the handle that others have handled after handling themselves. Someone with a worse case in the same situation might go in the bathroom, use toilet paper to lower or raise the lid, flush with foot before use, flush with foot after use, use paper towel to turn water on, wash his hands for a few minutes to get off all possible germs, and use more paper towels to open door following up with hand sanitizer. OCD usually involves having obsessions and compulsions although having one or the other is not uncommon. First is the obsession, which is thoughts, images, and impulses that occur over and over again that make the person feel out of control.


Obsessions are thoughts, images, or impulses that occur over and over again and feel out of your control. The person does not want to have these ideas, finds them disturbing and intrusive, and usually recognizes that they don't really make sense. People with OCD may worry excessively about dirt and germs and be obsessed with the idea that they are contaminated or may contaminate others. Or they may have obsessive fears of having inadvertently harmed someone else (perhaps while pulling the car out of the driveway), even though they usually know this is not realistic. Obsessions are accompanied by uncomfortable feelings, such as fear, disgust, doubt, or a sensation that things have to be done in a way that is "just so."


People with OCD typically try to make their obsessions go away by performing compulsions. Compulsions are acts the person performs over and over again, often according to certain "rules." People with an obsession about contamination may wash constantly to the point that their hands become raw and inflamed. A person may repeatedly check that she has turned off the stove or iron because of an obsessive fear of burning the house down. She may have to count certain objects over and over because of an obsession about losing them. Unlike compulsive drinking or gambling, OCD compulsions do not give the person pleasure. Rather, the rituals are performed to obtain relief from the discomfort caused by the obsessions.

The following chart was taken from and shows typical obsessions and the compulsions that follow.

Table 1. Typical OCD Symptoms

Common Obsessions: Common Compulsions:

Contamination fears of germs, dirt, etc. Washing

Imagining having harmed self or others Repeating

Imagining losing control of aggressive urges Checking

Intrusive sexual thoughts or urges Touching

Excessive religious or moral doubt Counting

Forbidden thoughts Ordering/arranging

A need to have things "just so" Hoarding or saving

A need to tell, ask, confess Praying

OCD can start at any time from preschool age to adulthood. One third to one half of adults with OCD report that it started during childhood. Unfortunately, OCD often goes unrecognized. Studies have also found that it takes an average of 17 years from the time OCD begins for people to obtain appropriate treatment. There is no single, proven



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