By Valerie Rice | October 12, 2020
OCD, or obsessive compulsive disorder, is one of the top five mental health disorders in the country today. Many people find this disorder, like many others, to be funny. They clean their homes and joke about having OCD. But it is much more than that.It is an excruciatingly painful pathology that affects both children and adults and makes it impossible to function in normal society without certain rituals.
In order to be diagnosed with this disorder you have to meet certain criteria, and no, wanting your house clean is not one of them. Most people like clean homes. So, unless you are like me and have a DSM 5 (and the tattered, dog-eared IV-TR for nostalgia’s sake) on your desk, you probably don’t know what an obsession or compulsion is clinically defined as. Here is a link. Little bit complicated, right? Allow me to translate that. Distressing and uncontrollable urges to perform an action, either physically or mentally, in order to prevent a dreaded event. This event has no connection to the action, and the action is excessive. Doing this is time consuming, meaning more than an hour a day, and impairs the person’s life. Are we all on the same page? Good. So yes, it often takes more than an hour to clean our houses, but this is not considered excessive. Especially if you have kids. So, let’s all monitor our words, okay? It helps end the invalidation of this disorder. Thanks, guys! Let’s take a closer look at the types of OCD. We have washers, doubters, checkers, and hoarders (not just a show). I’m sure we all have a general idea about these types of people, and we all probably pass judgement, especially on hoarders, but remember that this is a pathology, or a sickness that people can’t control, and judgement doesn’t help.
This one is easy. Most people who think of OCD think of excessive cleaning or hand washing. Washers are terrified of being contaminated. There is so much anxiety that the compulsion to wash their hands, or clean,or whichever ritual they have is overwhelming and the only way to make it stop. The routine for washing is going to be a rigid one, and these people are going to avoid places for fear of contamination. They are also going to avoid touching surfaces and possibly use hand sanitizer excessively.
DOUBTERS AND SINNERS
A doubter is someone who has to have everything perfect. I mean, the only way to avoid calamity is to achieve perfection. And it isn’t just calamity, they also fear punishment. You probably know what I mean. The ultimate perfectionist living in abject fear of reprisal. These people spend hours making sure everything is above and beyond, it is so disruptive they cannot possibly complete tasks. While their rituals are not always outwardly obvious, the distress is.
COUNTERS AND ARRANGERS
These people are those obsessed with symmetry and arrangement. You might notice them counting out loud, but often they do not. They may count their steps, numbers, items in a room, and so on. They also may be superstitious about colors and numbers. These superstitions are completely illogical, but the counting or superstition associated with it persists.
Checkers perform rituals for fear of harming someone, either accidentally or impulsively, and sexual obsession. They are going to check everything, because better safe than sorry. They are going to do so over and over again, and it is going to take hours. These people are driven by fear of an imaginary and imminent threat., either happening to them or being done by them. The sexual obsession falls into this categoy because it is not, as one would assume, an obsession with sex. It is a fear of having an abnormal sexual compulsion and causing sexual harm. Some examples of this may be fear of becoming a pedophile, or lashing out dangerously during sexual intercourse.
We all know about the TV show Hoarders. But did you know that people who hoard things have co- occurring disorders as well? This disorder is quite possibly the most complicated form of OCD. People who hoard are trying to avoid a potential disaster by collecting things they do not need, and will never need, in a desperate attempt to soothe their minds and feel safe. Surrounding themselves with what most people consider useless junk and garbage to an extent that it becomes dangerous is, in effect, creating an alternate source of disaster. This form of OCD causes the most physical, if not psychological, harm.
OCD can best be treated by a combination of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and medication. It will vary from person to person, and there will be exposure to the trigger of behavior, and eventually the routines can be recovered from. Hopefully. It is important to remember that not everyone who has a mental illness will recover. In fact, many disorders are treatment resistant. But, there is always hope. There are different medications and therapies being developed all the time. So never give up hope. Everyone is worth it.