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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

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Essay title: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

What if you couldn’t leave your house until you checked at least 8 times to see if the oven is shut off? What if you couldn’t hold your own child’s hand because of fear of being contaminated? These are only two instances Obsessive Compulsive Disorder patients have to face daily. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a very time consuming, mind boggling condition. It is currently classified as an anxiety disorder marked by the recurrence of intrusive or disturbing thoughts, impulses, images or ideas (obsessions) accompanied by repeated attempts to suppress these thoughts through the performance of certain irrational and ritualistic behaviors or mental acts (compulsions). These obsessions and compulsions can take up a great amount of time each day and can cause difficulties in his or her relationships because the patient is more preoccupied with the repetitive thoughts and actions. Many people might think that by performing these compulsions the patient feels much better and gets pleasure from it. This is entirely untrue. When he or she performs the compulsions their level of anxiety produced by the related obsession is lowered. Also, a common misconception is confusing obsessions with real-life worries, such a losing a job or getting a bad grade. Obsessive thoughts usually have nothing to do with problems that are actually occurring in the patient’s life. There are many different types of OCD including washing and cleaning, checking, and ordering. Each type varies greatly from person to person. Treatment for this condition can be either drug therapy, behavior therapy, or even a combination of both. Surprisingly, there is significant evidence that Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can be hereditary. Research of causes is conducted daily on OCD, but so much is still unknown.


First of all, there are many different categories of OCD, the most common being washing and cleaning, checking, and ordering. Each of these types involves very different compulsions.

The most typical group is the “washers” and “cleaners.” Washers and cleaners often wash and clean their hands, clothes, and houses countless times a day, though they never feel clean or “safe” from contaminants (The Health Center 1). To OCD sufferers many things (even the soap they are washing their hands with) are considered contaminated with germs, and touching it will require repeated hand washing. They may refuse to leave their house or touch others, even if it’s a family member, because the fear of illness, disease, and death overcomes them.

Not only is the “washing and cleaning” type very common, but the “checking” type is as well. Checkers feel the need to check on something over and over again until they are completely sure they will not cause harm to their house, themselves, or anyone else because of their careless behavior. For example, just leaving one’s house in the morning could take at least an hour. The stove, faucets, and the lock on the front door would be repeatedly checked until they are certain no disasters, such as a fire or flood, would occur. Allowing someone else to lock up the house is a way of getting the check out of the house or to go on with his or her day (Foa & Wilson 9). Because “checkers” do not trust themselves, they sometimes have to be reassured by others to make sure everything has been done correctly.

Lastly, many OCD patients fall into the category “orderers.” Orderers feel the need for perfection, arranging things precisely and symmetrically. They will rearrange closets, drawers, rooms, furniture, desks, and pretty much anything that the person feels should be in a certain or “right” way. Coming back in a room and discovering that something has been moved, however slightly, can cause great distress and even anger in individuals who have this type of OCD (Gravitz 47).

Obviously, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder contains many different categories and types of obsessions and compulsions, and “washer and cleaners,” “checkers,” and “orderers” are only the three most common. Living with OCD disrupts the patients socially and physically. Although, at one level sufferers realize these obsessions and compulsions are unnecceasry and unreasonable, he or she still feels the need perform them to go on with their lives.


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can never be completely cured, but there are many treatments and combination treatments that can help patients lead normal lives. There are numerous medications that are helpful for OCD sufferers. It is very common and useful to combine drug therapy with behavior therapy. The two types of frequently used

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