Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

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Nicholas Cage played Roy Waller, a conman with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), in Matchstick Men (2003). He reveals his thoughts in a gripping therapy session as he rambles “Look, Doc, I spent last Tuesday watching fibers on my carpet. And the whole time I was watching my carpet, I was worrying that I might vomit. And the more I thought about it... the more I realized that I should just blow my brains out and end it all. But then I thought, well, if I thought more about blowing my brains out... I start worrying about what that was going to do to my goddamn carpet. Okay, so, that was a GOOD day, Doc. And, and I just want you to give me some pills and let me get on with my life.”

I watched this movie once again after reading the chapter on psychological disorders. Only this time I paid more attention to Roy’s state of mind and how his disability affected his life and that of those around him. Roy’s conversation with his therapist raised three questions in my mind. First, what causes common OCD fears like germ phobia? Second, does OCD run in the family? And finally, what treatment options are best suited for this condition?

Myers depicts, (Myers, 2010) a table of common obsessions and compulsions among people with OCD. Highest ranked among obsessions is the fear of germs, dirt and toxins. Since these are real threats to all individuals and it is quite natural for anyone to be afraid of germs, I wondered if there was any evolutionary basis for this fear. Schacter, Gilbert and Wegner state, (Schacter, Gilbert and Wegner, 2009) those obsessions that plague individuals with OCD are typically derived from concerns that could pose a real threat, thus supporting the preparedness theory. This theory maintains that people are instinctively predisposed toward certain fears. I believe that as a result of the human evolutionary journey of survival of the fittest, we are all wired to instinctively act in a manner that protects us from dangers. However, the degree...
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