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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) 101

Updated on September 14, 2014

Learning Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Psychological Disorder: OCD

The following short essay will examine the natures of obsessive compulsive disorder. There will be discussion of the relationship between human development and socialization. This essay will also look at some of the cultural implications OCD presents. The presentation will end by showing how OCD affect development and socialization.

What is OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a relatively widespread chronic disorder that is frequently associated with momentous anguish and impairment in performance. Due to stigma and minimal acknowledgment, many persons with OCD go years before being properly diagnosed and treated (Hansell & Damour, 2008).

Obsessive compulsive order comes with a wide range of potential severity. Many patients with OCD experience moderate symptoms. In severe cases, OCD can be crippling and is suitably labeled as a model of severe and continual mental illness (Hansell & Damour, 2008).

OCD is classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) as an anxiety disorder. It is characterized by stressful interfering obsessive thoughts and recurring habitual actions, physical or cognitive acts which are clinically momentous (Hansell & Damour, 2008).

Some experts have recommended that OCD be taken out the anxiety disorders section of the DSM-IV-TR and placed with putatively related conditions in the forthcoming DSM-5. OCD appears to be tied to anxiety disorders and other conditions presently mentioned in other sections of DSM-IV-TR.

Most often the person will act or carry out the behavior or compulsion to satisfy the obsession. However, fulfilling the compulsion gives only temporary satisfaction but not fulfilling the act increases and intensifies the anxiety.

This condition is much more common than in past decades, centuries. There are theories surrounding the cause of OCD but nothing is yet to be confirmed. OCD is more prevalent in the United States than other places such as Costa Rica. For this reason treatment is offered and taken more seriously here as oppose to Costa Rica (MUSC, 2013). The obsessions of this condition range anywhere from actions such as repetitive hand washing to more riskier activity like gambling. This also suggests there are levels of severity associated with obsessive compulsive disorder.

Obsessive compulsive disorder is a neurological condition (MUSC, 2013). Evidence has shown individuals dealing with this condition have an imbalance of serotonin in the brain which leads to the obsessive behavior. OCD does have a tendency to run in families suggesting there may be a genetic component involved. Yet this condition can also occur without any family history.


Stress, physical or emotional insecurity, economical or financial instability, life style changes, family or work related situations are some possible trigger factors of OCD. Some of those people who cope with the daily stymies of OCD are most often conquered by the disorder meaning they spend most of their days trying to guard themselves. Sufferers loose confidence in themselves because of constant fear of an outbreak; they are unable to control outburst and the condition begins to control the individual. Because of this, one could say that these people live in a permanent state of crisis. With this mind set, response to any kind of treatment is usually ineffective. Usually those who develop obsessive compulsive disorder will have shown signs by age 30 (NIHM, 2013).

In children, OCD poses problems with education due to character traits of the condition. Children with the disorder suffer the same as adults, feeling embarrassed due to the repetitiveness of behavior. Self esteem is lost instead of gained during development years, this adds substantially to anxiety. To reduce the anxious feelings in children, they should be allowed to act out the compulsions. Understanding the condition is vital.


Obsessive compulsive disorder is also a universal condition. It not only has familial causes but has social causes as well. The world is made up of people from many different cultures. Every culture has its own viewpoint of mental illness. These differences among cultures significantly impact the pace at which mental disorders are diagnosed. Cultures will correlate different mental disorders to various causes. So, if an individual has a mental disorder, in some cultures the condition may go untreated, overlooked and disregarded as a common occurrence. These beliefs show the way in which mental illness might be taken in other cultures. Because other cultures use different languages to give an expression of dysfunction, it can lead to difficulties in diagnosing OCD. This happens because the culture built symptoms vary from the standard symptoms. Hence, where people powerfully hold to their cultures, a diagnosis will be difficult because there will be denial of the typical methods. Social settings can also be the trigger point of obsessive behavior. It may be that the individual becomes aroused by a certain person or thing. Depending on severity, it may be necessary to avoid particular social settings or events including the triggers.


Preventative measures to reduce the incidence of OCD outbursts in children are slim and unknown at this time. However, when it is possible and detected at an early age, it is best to begin some form of treatment depending on severity. Early and efficient treatment and or lifestyle changes will likely improve the quality of life, both privately and socially.


Hansell, J., & Damour, L. (2008). Abnormal Psychology (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

MUSC Health. (2013). OCD. Retrieved from

National Institute of Mental Health. (2013). Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, OCD. Retrieved from

Shiraev, E. B. & Levy, D. A. (2010). Cross-cultural psychology: Critical thinking and contemporary applications. 4th Ed. Boston: Pearson/Allyn Bacon.


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