We have all heard about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in one form or another. Even if we don’t know much about the symptoms or the common types of OCD, we have still used the term or heard someone use it before. In general, it is a psychological anxiety disorder which is characterized by repetitive, uncontrollable and unwanted thoughts followed by rituals performed by the person in order to alleviate the resulting anxiety.
Most of the OCDs discussed or depicted, are those that result in common physically visible actions/rituals (compulsions). Such compulsions are the ones related to washing your hands too many times or having things kept extremely tidy and in order. Hoarding is also another form of OCD, although less discussed, it has surfaced more often in the mainstream media and amongst the public. The types of OCD that usually emerge in movies and shows are those that result in compulsions. The OCDs with obsessions alone are rarely shown.
“I was obsessed with the number eight. I’d count eight times … I’d look on both sides of me eight times. I’d make sure nobody was following me down the street, I touched different parts of my bed before I went to sleep, I’d imagine a murder, and I’d imagine that same murder eight times.”
Lena Dunham, someone diagnosed with OCD, had directed and acted in the HBO series, “Girls” showcasing her condition. In her interview with the Rolling Stone, she stated the aforementioned to help place a mental picture of her suffering. These forms of OCD are usually referred to as rumination or intrusive thoughts. It is also referred to as “Pure-Obsessions” or “Pure-O”.
“I’ve had maybe ten obsessive thoughts since we arrived at the green. Would I push her pram into the traffic as we crossed from the car park? What if I hit her with a cricket bat, there all out propped on the porch. I open the broadsheet newspaper we bought to peruse and the story of a poisoned Russian spy escalates thoughts that I might have Münchhausen by Proxy and be on the verge of making my child sick with salt. The word ‘Poison’ is repeating in My head like my own mind is torturing me with the word and it kinda is.”
To further illustrate this condition, the above mentioned is the thoughts of an anonymous woman, on the OCD UK platform, who has been dealing with postpartum OCD for several years. OCD can take on numerous forms and, excluding the ones currently diagnosed, many other forms exist as well. Within OCD, ruminations may take the form of ideas, mental images, or impulses. Ruminations by itself also have many of its own forms as well; ranging from intrusive thoughts about symmetry/orderliness, relationships, body-focused obsessions, sexual thoughts, magical thinking, religious to those that are related to avoidance, trigger, and violence.
Due to unfamiliarity and improper diagnosis, these impulses exhibited within an individual are not immediately recognized under OCD and they could easily be misdiagnosed for a completely different mental illness. One thing that’s a given with OCD is that it causes distress for the individual. Individuals struggling with OCD find their thoughts unnecessary and with that, we can try to distinguish OCD from Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) since those with OCPD don’t actually think that their behaviors and/actions are unnecessary. However, in comparison to the symptoms of other mental illnesses, it may not be as clearly distinguishable.
These seemingly never-ending thoughts consume a person’s time, energy, control, and disrupt their day-to-day activities. In essence, the person is forced to enter long battles multiple times during the day and face their worst fears that are manifested by their own mind.
Suval, L. (2013, April 27). Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in the Media. Retrieved September 30, 2017, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/04/28/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-in-the-media/
The Different Types of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Retrieved September 30, 2017, from www.ocduk.org/types-ocd
My experience of Postpartum OCD (2013, October 13). Retrieved September 30, 2017, from http://www.ocduk.org/my-postpartum-ocd
What do patients do with their obsessive thoughts? (1998, June 15). Retrieved September 30, 2017, from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0005796796000940