Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental illness that traps people in endless cycles of repetitive thoughts and behaviors. Pierre Janet described obsessive-compulsive disorder by using the term psychasthenia. Sigmund Freud described obsessions and compulsions as psychological defenses used to deal with sexual and aggressive conflicts in the unconscious mind (Bruce Bower: 1987). OCD is also known as “The Doubting Disease,” because it’s as though the mind doesn’t register when the person does a certain action, which triggers the source of the obsession (USA Today:1995). Unlike most people with anxiety disorders, those diagnosed with OCD are more obsessed with what will happen to others instead of themselves (Edna Foa: 1995). Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder occurs in a spectrum from mild to severe. At some point the person will see the actions or thoughts as unreasonable and senseless. All people have habits and routines, but what makes obsessive-compulsive people different is the fact that their obsessions and compulsions interfere with their daily lives (American Family Physician: 2000). They spend large amounts of time doing odd rituals. The rituals can take hours a day and make the sufferers miserable and doesn’t allow them for much of a business or social life (Harvard Mental Health Letter). At one OCD clinic, many had lost years of work to their symptoms. Seventy-five percent said the disorder interfered with their family lives and thirteen percent had attempted suicide (Harvard Mental Health Letter: 1998). Phebe Tucker, a psychiatrist at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, explained, the most common obsession is washing hands for fear of contamination. Other acts are counting over and over, checking locks, hoarding items such as newspapers or cartons, repeatedly dressing and undressing, and walking in and out of doorways. The thought and behavior patterns are senseless and distressing. They can make it very difficult for a person to function properly at work, school, or even at home. Obsessions take the form of doubts, fears, images, or impulses. (Harvard Mental Health Center: 1998)

Obsessions are unwanted ideas, images, and impulses that run through a person’s mind over and over again. They are intrusive, unpleasant and produce high anxiety. ( April 2000) Sometimes the obsessions come once and a while and other...

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...ehavioral therapy. Eventually they will overcome their compulsions and be able to control their obsessions.

Works Cited

Kendall, Phillip C. and Constance Hamman. (1998). Abnormal Psychology: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Understanding Human Problems. Boston New York

OCD: What it is and how to treat it. (March 1, 2000). American Family Physician,

V61 pg. 1532

General Review: Obsessive Compulsive Part I. (Oct. 1998) Harvard Mental Health Letter, v15 I 4

General Review: Obsessive Compulsive Part II. (Nov. 1998) Harvard Mental Health Letter, v15 i5

OCD Meds not likely to replace therapy: the challenge is to tailor the right combination of treatments for patient. (Jan. 1997). Behavioral Health Treatment, v2 n1 pg1

Begely, Sharon and Nina A. Biddle. For the obsessed, the mind can fix the brain. (Feb. 26, 1996) Newsweek, v127 n9 pg. 60

Help for obsessive-compulsive disorder. (aug. 1995). USA Today, v124 pg. 12

Foa, Edna B. How do treatments for obsessive compulsive disorder compare?. (July 1995). Harvard Mental Health Letter v12 n1 pg.8

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: review of drug treatment. (Sept. 15, 1994). American Family Physician, v50 pg. 831
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