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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Updated on March 10, 2018
Pamela99 profile image

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

OCD Symptoms and Behaviors

There are two types of disorders. There is Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Both disorders are characterized by recurrent, repetitive thoughts and behaviors. The personality disorder is more of a problem because there is no off switch.

For instance, your thoughts may cause extreme anxiety and you can't stop worrying about death all day or you may be fixated on not feeling safe. Many are germ-a-phoebes. They continually wash their hands all day long, shake hands or get too close to people.

Consequences of Personality Disorders

Tony Shalhoub of Monk and Howie Mandel are two well known personalities that talk about this problem openly. The personality disorder would take it a step further than the OCD person. They are obsessed with dirt so they bathe and wash their hair and hands frequently. They may develop dermatitis or skin lesions from picking at their skin.

Other types of repetitive behaviors include counting things frequently, cleaning things that aren’t dirty over and over again, and check on things continually, like is the stove or coffee pot turned off or the door locked. They are plagued with unwelcome thoughts and images. They may feel intense distress if something is not turned the right way. They may have images of hurting their child or someone in an auto accident; or impulses to shout obscenities in inappropriate situations. They are often plagued with doubt, hence the repetitive checking to see if the stove is turned off. These rituals are performed to seek temporary relief from the repetitive thoughts.

Monk on OCD

Obsession Themes

This is a description that one victim of this disease might have written: “I couldn’t do anything without rituals. They invaded every aspect of my life. Counting really bogged me down. I would wash my hair three times as opposed to once because three was a good luck number and one wasn’t. It took me longer to read because I’d count the lines in a paragraph. When I set my alarm at night, I had to set it to a number that wouldn’t add up to a ’bad’ number.”

“I knew the rituals didn’t make sense, and I was deeply ashamed of them, but I couldn’t seem to overcome them until I had therapy.”

“Getting dressed in the morning was tough, because I had a routine, and if I didn’t follow the routine, I’d get anxious and would have to get dressed again. I always worried that if I didn’t do something, my parents were going to die. I’d have these terrible thoughts of harming my parents. That was completely irrational, but the thoughts triggered more anxiety and more senseless behavior. Because of the time I spent on rituals, I was unable to do a lot of things that were important to me.”

The obsessive thoughts have themes, such as the fear of germs and to ease the contamination they start the compulsive hand washing to the degree their hands are chapped and sore. Despite these efforts, the thoughts keep returning, which leads to more compulsive behavior.

Common obsession themes according to Mayo Clinic are:

  • "Fear of contamination or dirt
  • Needing things orderly and symmetrical
  • Aggressive or horrific impulses
  • Unwanted thoughts of sexual or religious subjects, including aggression"

There is a difference between being a perfectionist and having OCD. OCD can become disabling and certainly produce a low quality of life.


Many of us have some of the characteristics of OCD (sometimes referred to as an anal personality). For instance, in a public rest room, I try not to touch anything. I wash my hands, and if possible I turn the water off with the paper towel I use to dry my hands. Then I use my left hand, with a tissue or the back of my hand if possible to open the door because I know many don’t wash their hands.

Considering the flu and other disease this could be called healthy living. I thought my mother might have OCD when I was a teenager as she had us cleaning the house very regularly. It seemed she wanted everything to look perfect, but told us it was good training for when we had homes of our own. I think she was probably right.

If your obsessions and compulsions are affecting your life, see your doctor or mental health provider. It is common for people with OCD to be ashamed and embarrassed about the condition. But even if your rituals are deeply ingrained, treatment can help.

There are medications that will help reduce the stress level. Counseling can certainly help, and research is yielding new improved therapies that help most people with their symptoms.

There is Christian counseling available that will help with shame based beliefs that often start this vicious cycle of OCD living. Don’t ignore the problem, as it probably won’t go away without some outside help. Take that risk to get help and have a good life.

Evaluate Yourself for Compulsive Traits

A few compulsive behaviors or maybe you're just careful?

See results

© 2010 Pamela Oglesby


Submit a Comment
  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Jasper, Thank you so much for your comments.

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    Thanks for raising awarness Im currently working on this issue and I came across your hub I thought you did a great job explaining your thoughts knowlage and feelings toward this illness very usefull, informative and intresting well put togeather realy enjoyed the read thanks!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    8 years ago from Sunny Florida

    peachefulparadoz, Thanks you for adding that comment to my hub. I didn't realize that was true. Thanks for commenting.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    Compulsive hording may be considered a subset of OCD as well. Around 30% to 40% of OCD patients display some hording behavior.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Thank you for your comment Roberta

  • Roberta99 profile image


    9 years ago

    Very interesting aritcle. I know someone that has this disorder and life is very difficult for them.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Freelance, I think I heard that also. Thanks for your comment.

  • freelancewriterva profile image


    9 years ago

    I think Howard Hughes had this illness. Excellent hubpage.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Eovery, I don't think intelligence has anything to do with this disease. It sounds like you have basically overcome the compulsion and hopefully will be able to help your children do the same.

  • eovery profile image


    9 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

    I get a kick out of finding that a lot of more intelligent people suffer from CCD, compulsion Counting Disorder. I do not thing of myself as very smart, but for I while I almost almost over run with counting disorder, and still have some remnants of it. I find my kids have it, who are very intelligent and other intelligent friends of theirs do too.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    dohn, You're so welcome. I hope these people who fit the descriptions will seek some help so they can know some peace and be well. Thank you for your comment.

  • dohn121 profile image


    9 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

    I worked, lived, and am related to some of the people whose symptoms fit your descriptions here perfectly! You gave such great insight and examples of people who suffer from such ailments. Than you Pamela!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Tn and Hello, Thanks for your comments. I think it would be very difficult to live with this compulsive disorder. They try to make in funny in the TV shows, but obviously it would affect relationships also.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 

    9 years ago from London, UK

    It was very interesting for me to read but very sad for people who suffer of it. Thank you for your Hub.

  • TnFlash profile image


    9 years ago from Tampa, Florida

    Pamela, Great Hub! I have a close friend with OCD. OCD can make your life really difficult. It can at times make relationships difficult.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Thanks for the comment BPop. When I studied in be a nurse, the same thing happened to me. One semester I had to work in a mental ward and I knew I didn't want to do that for the rest of my life. They might just have locked me in one day!

  • breakfastpop profile image


    9 years ago

    Great hub, Pamela.

    We all are a little bit crazy, but when our craziness disturbs our life and we are no longer functioning effectively, it becomes a disorder. I remember in college when I first began studying psychology, I thought I had every major mental illness. The line between normal and abnormal is very, very thin.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Tom, I think we all have a few little quirks. Life wouldn't be much fun if we were all identical. Thanks for your comment.

  • Tom Whitworth profile image

    Tom Whitworth 

    9 years ago from Moundsville, WV


    I don't have OCD but I do have a bashful kidney I can hardly go in a public restroom if someone else is around. I also have a sleep ritual that helps me go to sleep.


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