Obsessions, Compulsions, Undo harm, Rituals, Superstitions: OCD

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“The boy who could not stop washing” or “When once is not enough”, two book titles on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) that tell a lot about this devastating behavioural and mental condition. This illness that can start as early as early teens, is not limited to washing and cleaning, but obsessions about tidiness, orderliness, checking, rechecking and more. Obsession is a repetitive anxiety provoking thought that something is not clean, tidy, organized, in order, not right, etc. that will not leave the inflicted individual alone. Then the person feels obliged to do something to stop the burdening thought (compulsion) that leads to “compulsive act” that is washing, cleaning, ordering, tidying, checking and rechecking until feels satisfied that is hard to reach. Associated or underlying this chain of thought (obsession), urge to act (compulsion) and the act (compulsive act) are, “doubt” and “superstition” that things are not clean or right the way should be, and if not act upon, some harms will befall on the individuals or beloved ones. Then rituals will come to play, and the person in the eyes of others could appear not anymore as a clean, tidy, or a “perfectionist”, but as totally insane who has lost his touch with reality and cannot be convinced by others. The cases that come to medical attention, are usually more than a mere perfectionism and consists of all the above, that makes it very hard to treat.

The big question is that what causes OCD, specially from an early age. Is it a personality that is labeled “obsessive compulsive personality”, or is it rooted in “perfectionism”, or in anxiety-ridden subjects, or is it genetic and familial? The fact is that many of OCD patients, have had no obsessive compulsive personality, or perfectionism, no history of previous anxiety and none of their other family members suffer the same. The etiology is still unknown, hence the treatment is incomplete and failure in many instances and prevention is not in agenda as nobody knows how! In this article, I will attempt by search in the available literature to answer some of these dilemmas and somewhat clear the path to the treatment and hopefully the prevention.

 Did it all start from a “sore throat”?

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