Overview of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (the fourth most prevalent psychiatric disorder), is an illness marked by the presence of either one or both of the criteria for having obsessive thoughts and repeating compulsive behaviors in order to repress the anxiety that the thoughts provoke. Since first being observed in the17th century, major developments have occurred in the diagnosis and treatment arenas of the illness. Furthermore, “obsessive-compulsive disorder is associated with substantial direct and indirect costs, which are compounded by an absence of recognition, and by under diagnosis and inappropriate treatment” (Stein, 2002). With continued research and development of new technological advancements such as brain imaging, further significant progress toward its understanding and treatment efficacy is expected.


Prior to being seen as a legitimate mental health issue, OCD was originally thought to be a consequence of unholy behavior first observed by Robert Burton as early as the seventeenth century. Although the discovery of the disorder cannot be narrowed down beyond its major contributors, Sigmund Freud (who originally suggested psychoanalytic treatment) made major progress toward the understanding of the illness in the beginning of the 20th century.


The known symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive disorder, as identified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, include those of both obsessions and compulsions; as such, they may be categorized according to their prevalence. The common symptoms of obsessions (defined as: “uncontrollable, persistent thoughts, images, or impulses that an individual feels intrude upon his or her consciousness and that cause significant anxiety ...

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