I have always been fascinated with behavioral disorders, especially OCD. I learned about OCD a few years ago when I was reading a medical journal. At first, it seemed like something very odd. The idea that otherwise normal people can do such strange things, and not be able to control themselves was fascinating. I wanted to know more about this topic, which is why I chose to write my paper on it. I thought that by knowing more about the subject, I will be able to better understand how these people's lives can be literally taken over by their constant worries and anxiety. Also, I think a lot of people exhibit these behaviors and aren't even aware that they may have a severe problem, and more importantly, that they can be getting help to control these obsessions and compulsions. I also know that I have a lot of habits that could possibly be considered obsessive, and by writing this paper, I may have a better understanding of my own behaviors, and the ability to distinguish between a habit, and an obsession.
Most importantly, however, thought it would be interesting to write a paper on something I did not already know that much about so that it would keep my interest.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is defined as an anxiety disorder where a person has recurrent unwanted ideas or impulses (called obsessions) and an urge or compulsion to do something to relieve the discomfort caused by the obsession (Mental Health Network, 2000). The obsessive thought range from the idea of losing control, to themes surrounding religion or keeping things or parts of one's body clean all the time. Compulsions are behaviors that help reduce the anxiety surrounding the obsessions. 90% of the people who have OCD have both obsessions and compulsions. The thoughts and behaviors a person with OCD has are senseless, repetitive, distressing, and sometimes harmful, but they are also difficult to overcome.
Some examples of common obsessions of OCD sufferers are fears of germ contamination, imagining having harmed self or others, imagining losing control of aggressive urges, sexual thoughts or urges, excessive religious or moral doubt, etc. As stated before, most cases of OCD have compulsions to satisfy their obsessions, or urges. Some of
the compulsions for these urges are, excessive washing, repeating tasks, touching, counting, praying, etc. Some sufferers have been known to wash their hands fir hours at a time, or to turn their stove off dozens of times, when it was never on in the first place, all because of the obsession in their mind imagining and fearing that the house would burn down.
Worries, doubts, superstitious beliefs- all are common worries of everyday life. However, when they become excessive, or make no sense at all, then a diagnosis is made. In OCD, it is as though the brain gets stuck on a particular thought or urge and just can't let go, no matter how hard they may try. OCD is a medical brain disorder that causes problems in information processing (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Foundation [OCD Foundation], 2000).
Many patients believe that they somehow caused themselves to have these compulsive behaviors and obsessive thoughts. According to Neziraglu (1999), this is completely untrue; OCD is likely caused by a number of intertwined and complex factors which include genetics, biology, personality development, and how a person learns to react to
the environment around them. Also the OCD foundation (2000), says that even though no specific genes for OCD have been identified, research suggests that genes do play a role in the development of the disorder in some cases. Childhood-onset OCD tends to run in families. When a parent has OCD, there is a slightly increased risk that a child will develop OCD. While OCD runs in families, it is the general nature of OCD that seems to be inherited, not any specific symptoms.
There is no single, proven cause of OCD. However,...