Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety spectrum disorder that involves recurrent and persistant thoughts (obsessions) or actions (compulsions) that have little or no rational basis.

Obsessions and compulsions can be present individually or together.

As an example of concurrent related obsession and compulsion, an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder sufferer who has a personal cleanliness obsession and a hand-washing compulsion may wash her hands 50 times per day, each time spending two or three minutes of scrubbing to the point her skins is damaged.  Spending two to three hours per day washing hands to the point they are painful seriously interferes with normal life activities.  She may feel obsessed with the idea of contamination and uncleanliness from touching objects or people, and the compulsion or ritual of hand-washing may help alleviate some of the anxiety from her obsession.

DSM-IV states there are six diagnostic characteristics of obsessions and compulsions and that the sufferer must have all four of those for obsessions and/or all two for compulsions.  Further, the obsessions and/or compulsions must cause significant distress and impair normal life functioning and the sufferer must realize that they are excessive or unreasonable.

The characteristics are:

Obsessions

  1. Recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that are experienced as intrusive and that cause marked anxiety or distress.
  2. The thoughts, impulses, or images are not simply excessive worries about real-life problems.
  3. The person attempts to ignore or suppress such thoughts, impulses, or images, or to neutralize them with some other thought or action.
  4. The person recognizes that the obsessional thoughts, impulses, or images are a product of his or her own mind, and are not based in reality.

Compulsions

  1. Repetitive behaviors or mental acts that the person feels driven to perform in response to an obsession, or according to rules that must be applied rigidly.
  2. The behaviors or mental acts are aimed at preventing or reducing distress or preventing some dreaded event or situation; however, these behaviors or mental acts are not actually connected to the issue, or they are excessive.

Although the names are similar, Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) is not the same as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). They are distinct.  It is possible for one individual to have only one and another individual to have both.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) typically generates a great degree of anxiety and discomfort on the part of its sufferers.  Hence OCD is regarded as an anxiety disorder.  Those who have OCPD may accept their personality characteristics of being unusually detail-oriented and exacting without anxiety and even regard them as beneficial.  It is believed that a large number of those with OCPD find  success in exacting professions such as accounting, engineering, and legal services.


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Web Sites

Wikipedia: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Books

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