Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
You will probably have heard of people being described as compulsive cleaners, washers or tidyers, but this may
or may not be related to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) because obsessive compulsive disorder is characterised
by intrusive, unpleasant thoughts and the compulsive behaviour is merely a distraction from those thoughts.
For example, a sufferer from OCD may be having intrusive, unpleasant, sexual thoughts, but notices that they
stop when he or she is washing their hands, so washing their hands becomes a way or dispelling or preventing those
thoughts. This is obviously not the same as someone who double or even treble checks that the front door is locked
before going shopping.
The obtrusive thoughts of an OCD sufferer frequently cause anxiety or even fear, so the repetitive behaviour,
whatever it is, is meant to reduce the stress or apprehension of those terrible thoughts and provide relief from
the anxiety. Up to a half of adult sufferers say that their obsessive compulsive behaviour started to develop when
they were children.
Therefore, without treatment (medication and therapy), people with OCD may well live most of their lives with
symptoms of distress and depression in fear that if they stop doing what they do, the bad thoughts will repeat
themselves ad infinitum.
What is worse is that most sufferers of OCD know that what they are doing, say, tying their shoelaces three
times before trusting the knot, is irrational and that in some cases it is damaging their relationships and contact
with people they love. However, they still cannot stop for fear of the thoughts returning and this they find
These obsessive thoughts may be about murder, death, Good and Evil, sex, violence or / and religion or Satanism
amongst other things and the compulsive distractions may have to do with continual protracted bouts of washing,
cleaning, checking or / and tidying; eating; hoarding; numbers or / and the ritual performance of certain other
Even casual observers may notice that there is a problem, since the sufferer may appear to be paranoid or even
psychotic and the sufferer will notice this in others and it will make him or her worse. This is a vicious circle
with a downward spiral.
OCD sufferers will appear to be doing irrational things or things in an irrational way, but they may well be of
above average intelligence. They often have characteristics in common such as an extreme attention to detail and
risk avoidance. They may also have a tendency to agonise over taking decisions.
While many obsessive thoughts are about religion and death (of a loved one), another very common theme is sex.
The victim of OCD may have intrusive thoughts about unpleasant sexual acts of violence such as rape, incest or
molestation. Most normal people have these thoughts from time to time as well, but they are able to dismiss them
for what they are: random or / and temporary.
However, on the other hand, a sufferer from obsessive compulsive disorder will not be able to get rid of them so
easily without a displacement activity, which then becomes compulsive, like using a lucky charm or touching
There are treatments that can help sufferers from their obsessions and compulsions, but there is little that
they can do alone without first having received counselling, training and support from a doctor who is an expert in
the field of a mental illnesses such as anxiety disorder.
by +Owen Jones