At some point during their lifetimes, some people are bound to suffer from a psychological disorder. They may be afflicted with schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder. However, one anxiety disorder interests me personally, which locks the individuals that suffer from it into a perpetual cycle of continuous thoughts and behaviors. This disorder is obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is commonly known as OCD.
Essentially, OCD is a psychological disorder where people possess unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviors that make them feel driven to perform certain actions (compulsions). Keeping this definition in mind, it makes sense that those who are distressed by this disorder are preoccupied with rules, orderliness, and control. More specifically, the symptoms of OCD include a sense of urgency in actions, feeling upset if routines are interrupted, perfectionism, emotional withdrawal when the situation is uncontrollable, the inability to throw things away (hoarding), a lack of flexibility, & obsessions/compulsions that aren’t due to medical illness or drug use (and which cause major distress or interfere with everyday life).
Since this disorder emphasizes obsessions and compulsions (hence the name OCD), it is important to focus on what exactly these two things are. I will begin by defining what obsessions are: the thoughts, images, or impulses that recur or persist despite a person’s efforts to suppress them. They are experienced as an unwanted invasion of consciousness that appear to be senseless and obnoxious, as well as being unacceptable to the person enduring them. In addition, the obsessive thoughts of people with OCD are very compelling, cause a lot of pain & agony, and may interfere with their occupational or social functioning. On top of that, part of the pain that OCD sufferers undergo is caused by their frustration at recognizing the irrationality or excessive nature of their obsessions without being able to eliminate them. Common obsessions include those dealing with dirt, cleanliness, order, symmetry, and doubt, among other things. On the flip side, compulsions are repetitive, purposeful actions that are performed according to certain rules or in a ritualized manner in response to an obsession. Compulsive behavior is usually performed in order to prevent or reduce the discomfort associated with some dreaded situation. However, compulsive behavior is either unreasonable or clearly excessive. At least initially, people with OCD resist carrying out their compulsions but this depends entirely on the mood that they are in. When they feel calm, they view their compulsions as being senseless. In contrast, when they experience an increase in anxiety, the power of the ritualistic compulsive behavior becomes irresistible as they are seeking to relieve their personal tension in some way. It just so happens that they achieve this by carrying out these compulsions repeatedly. Some examples of compulsions include irresistible urges to clean, checking that lights or appliances have been turned off, and counting objects or possessions.
Now that you have an understanding of what obsessive-compulsive disorder is as well as the symptoms associated with it, it is only fitting that I talk about the basic origins of how OCD appears in human beings. Specifically, I will stress the biological, psychodynamic, behavioral, and cognitive aspects of how OCD comes to exist (in that exact order). Therefore, I will begin by discussing the biological causes of OCD. According to MRI techniques, it has been revealed that there are very widespread abnormalities in the brains of OCD patients compared to the brains of average people. Most notably, there is greater cortical thickness in areas of the brain that typically allow people to prevent certain behaviors. As a...