According to the WHO , in its ICD-10, an obsessive-compulsive disorder is:
“The essential characteristic of this disorder is the presence of obsessive thoughts or recurrent compulsive acts”.
Regarding the disorder, we could say that there are no differences between men and women, only in the quality of the compulsions that in men, is based more on controlling their body and, in women, controlling their environment.
- 1 Age of onset
- 2 Factors that can predispose the person to an obsessive-compulsive disorder:
- 3 What’s an obsession?
- 4 Types of obsession
- 5 What’s a compulsion?
- 6 Types of compulsions or rituals
- 7 3 Foolproof Steps to learn to Say No and Earn People's respect
Age of onset
There are 2 ages at which OCS appears:
- From ages 6 to 12: a stage where the reasoning capacity develops. (almost every child with OCD is very smart).
- From ages 20 to 30: the greatest changes in people’s live occur (marrying, moving, independence, etc.). When faced with these changes, the person will try to gain maximum control over the situation, causing them to completely lose control.
Factors that can predispose the person to an obsessive-compulsive disorder:
Some factors are:
- Post-traumatic disorder
- Healthy attitudes (checking the water, gas, etc, before leaving)
- Moral ideologies
- Religion and superstition
What’s an obsession?
A thought in the shape of an idea or image that involuntarily and repeatedly appears in the person’s mind.
Even though this type of thoughts doesn’t make much sense for those who think them, they perceive them as their own thoughts.
Types of obsession
2. Obsessive doubt
For example, did I lock the door when I left? Did I turn off all the lights? Did I close all the windows?
As they aren’t sure, they check again.
The problem is that once they’ve checked, they ask themselves the same question, did I close all the windows?
And the uncertainty can make them check the windows again, leading to a vicious circle.
2. Phobic obsessions
This is when the person worries about getting sick. But more than fearing the disease itself, they are concerned with carrying out the necessary preventive measures to avoid getting sick.
- If I wash my hands every time I touch something dirty, I’ll avoid germs.
- If I clean the house thoroughly and leave it spotless, I’ll avoid getting any illness.
3. Religious or moral obsessions
In this case, these are people with strong religious or moral beliefs that constantly judge their own behavior based on their own moral standards.
They are continually afraid of doing something that may transgress their religious or moral rules and live in distress due to their sense of responsibility, guilt, what’s right or wrong and what’s sinful.
- Feeling that if you speak with a person of the opposite sex at work, you’re betraying your partner.
4. Contrasting ideas
These ideas appear abruptly in the person’s mind and act against the person’s feelings or beliefs.
For example: A father driving in the car with his children suddenly thinks about leaving them in the middle of the route.
5. Impulsive phobias
It’s the fear of losing control over one’s impulses.
- Seeing a knife and suddenly thinking that they could hurt someone
- Not wanting to approach a balcony because of fear of jumping off it
6. Obsessive cavilations
This is quite similar to obsessive doubt, but in this case, the doubt isn’t about whether the person has performed a specific action, but rather about something philosophical.
The person may re-think a question and feel anxious about not being able to solve it.
For example: what’s there after death?
An obsessive need to count, add, check if figures add to an even or odd number, counting tiles before crossing a room, etc.
- Having to cross a room taking a determined number of steps
- For the numbers of a license plate to add to an even number.
What’s a compulsion?
It’s an act or ritual that is carried out impulsively, repeatedly and inevitably.
Generally, a compulsion could decrease anxiety and, does so in the short term.
In the long-term, the solution that frees the person from anxiety becomes the true cause of the problem, as it becomes unmanageable.
Types of compulsions or rituals
Based on structure:
- Preventive or propitiatory: oriented towards the future, to propitiate good things or so that previous things don’t happen again.
- Rational and logical: these are healthy behaviors that can turn into compulsions (eg, washing one’s hands). What makes it a compulsion is quantity.
- Magical thinking: believing that a magical process will influence the development of future events.
- Repairing: oriented towards the past. These are done to intervene and repair something after the feared event has already taken place.
Based on performance:
- The ritual is performed alone (in the first person):
- It involves others (relatives and/or friends) to perform the ritual.
Generally, we could say that:
The person with obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD mistrusts their own feelings and emotions and tries to solve all their problems by thinking.
I hope that this post helps you better understand this disorder and, that if you related with any of the examples, or know someone who’s going through this, you won’t hesitate to seek professional help.
If you need more information about this, please just ask me.