Some adults like to wash their hands, but Nora does it constantly. She wants to stop, but her hands just don't feel clean enough and she can't make herself turn off the water. At times she scrubs her hands until they are red and raw. After eating, she feels that her hands are extremely dirty and she mustwash them again. She realizes that she has no control over her actions, and it scares her.Since she spends so much time washing her hands, Nora has to rush to get to work on time. Atwork, she tries not to touch doorknobs or handrails, perturbed that if she does she may possibly catch asevere disease. From time to time, Nora gets behind in her work because she feels that she needs tokeep checking it over and over for it to be perfect. Nora is consequently trying hard to hide her habits. She worries that she might be going crazyor that people would assume she was weird if they knew what she was doing. Nora knows that the timeshe spends washing her hands and checking over her work could be spent having fun with family andfriends or relaxing, but she can't seem to stop herself. Why is Nora like this? This is because Nora has
bsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
, or OCD, is an anxiety disorder and is distinguished byrecurring, unwanted thoughts and or repetitive behaviors. Recurring behaviors such as hand washing,counting, checking, or cleaning are often performed with the hope of preventing obsessed thoughts or making them go away. Healthy people also have rituals, such as checking to see if the stove is off several times before leaving the house. Performing these so-called "rituals," however, provides onlytemporary relief, and not performing them noticeably increases
anxiety. It is as if one doesn't have a choice but to repeat these rituals. A person suffering fromObsessive Compulsive Disorder knows that his/her actions are irrational, but doesn't have the ability todo anything about them. To them, it seems that if they don't perform a certain habit, something bad will
happen. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder goes over the line from a habit to a severe obsession.People with OCD have constant, disturbing thoughts and use compulsions to control theanxiety these thoughts create but most of the time, the compulsions end up controlling them. For example, if people are obsessed with germs or dirt, they may develop a compulsion to wash their hands
over and over again. If they develop an obsession with intruders, they may lock and relock their doorsmultiple before going to bed. Being afraid of social embarrassment may prompt people with OCD tocomb their hair compulsively in front of a mirror; sometimes they get “caught” in the mirror and can’t
move away from it. Performing such rituals is not pleasurable. At best, it produces temporary relief from the anxiety created by obsessive thoughts (Haggerty, 2006). People feel so drawn into their activities that they lose the feel of reality.Other common rituals are a need to repeatedly check things and touch things in a particular
sequence, or count things. Some common obsessions include having frequent thoughts of violence anddesire to hurt loved ones, persistently thinking about performing sexual acts the person dislikes, or having thoughts that are prohibited by religious beliefs.