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Running Head: OCD

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Danny Fritz

Jasper High School

Psychology 2006

Obsessive-compulsive is an anxiety disorder where

the person feels compelled to do a seemingly random

task in order to proceed with what they are doing.

“obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, an anxiety

disorder marked by persistent, unwanted thoughts that

intrude upon the mind, and compulsive behaviors-

unneeded actions that one feels must be done over and

over again in certain rigid and consistent ways.” (2002).

The researcher will review the current, relevant

literature regarding obsessive-compulsive anxiety

disorder from both a clinical and a social/familial


There are six main types of obsessive-compulsive

disorder commonly seen: checkers, cleaners, orderers,

pure obsessionals, hoarders, scrupulosity.

“Checkers have irrational fears of catastrophes

befalling themselves or others as a result of things they

do or do not do. They may have compulsions to


repeatedly check such things as doors, locks, and

household appliances to ward off potential disasters.”

(2002). This type of person will constantly check

something repetitively. If they believe having a door

open will help a fire grow in case of a flame, they will

always make sure all doors are shut every moment of

their presence. The list of possible things a person

could be a checker of is endless; they could be

constantly checking someone’s feelings.

“Washers and Cleaners have fears and worries

about contamination by dirt, germs, or foreign

substances. They ease their obsessive fears by washing

their hands, showering, or cleaning their environment.”

(2002). These are the people you see constantly putting

on lotion or antibacterial on their hands all of the time.

Germs and bacteria, things that cannot be seen with the

naked eye, will scare these types of people into


An orderer is a person who feels they need to

arrange specific items in the same positions. Arranging

books and keeping neat handwriting are some things

they obsess over. Sufferers will not proceed with

another task until the objects they put in order are in

their certain order. Clothing will be arranged by color

and books by name.

“Pure Obsessionals are troubled by unwanted,

intrusive, horrific thoughts and images of causing

danger or harm to others.” (2002). Some thoughts are

of domestic violence among their family and

embarrassing sexual acts. These thoughts often build

up anxiety in the victim and they have trouble relieving

it. Engaging in other obsessive acts, such as counting

or constantly praying, helps ease the anxiety, but can

only ease the thoughts for so long. The thoughts come

in patterns of cycles and take up a larger and larger

amount of time until it takes up the whole day. “the


people with OCD never actually acts upon the

thoughts.” (2002).

Hoarders are the people who collect seemingly

random objects and think there is some significance in

them. If you asked one of them why they have the

objects they have collected, they will often not have an

answer. Connections to the items will often be felt

without actual sentimental thoughts behind them.

The obsession over being accepted by a religion is

scrupulosity. Constant compulsive praying or religious

service to seek constant assurance about their beliefs or

morality marks this type of obsessive-compulsive


“The essential features of Obsessive-Compulsive

Disorder are recurrent obsessions or compulsions that

are severe enough to be time consuming (i.e., they take

more than one hour a day) or cause marked distress or

significant impairment. At some point during the course


of the disorder, the person has recognized that the

obsessions or compulsions are excessive or

unreasonable.” (2000). An obsession or compulsion that

is considered severe enough to qualify might take up

more than an hour a day, cause distress to complete, or

interfere with how you function. It is not considered

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder if the obsession or

compulsion is not interfering with everyday life. The

signals of obsession-compulsive disorder can include

repeated hand washing, specific methods of counting,

organizing, cancelling out bad thoughts, fear of

contamination, and a need for symmetry.

There are many causes of obsession-compulsive

disorder and can’t be helped. It can be treated though.

“OCD can be treated with Behavioral therapy (BT),

Cognitive therapy (CT), medications, or any combination

of the three. Psychotherapy can also help in some

cases, while not one of the leading treatments.


According to the Expert Consensus Guidelines for the

Treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder…. The

treatment of choice for most OCD is behavior therapy or

cognitive behavior therapy.” (2006). “OCD is found in 3

percent of the population and is more common among

women than men.” (2002).

The type of behavioral treatment used is called

exposure and ritual prevention. The process has the

idea that if you slowly expose them to the thing they

avoid or do, the victims will gradually start to accept it

as ok to not check the locks or to touch the door knob.

It can start as small as poking them with a toothpick and

progressing to touching them with a more contaminated

object such as a phone.

Group therapy is a big treatment of obsessive-

compulsive disorder. Like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), a

group of similar people with similar problems talk to

each other. They discuss with each other individual


problems and offer personal advice from their own

experiences to help sufferers cope and overcome the


“Pharmacologic treatments include selective

serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as paroxetine

(Paxil, Aropax), sertraline (Zoloft), fluoxetine (Prozac),

and fluvoxamine (Luvox) as well as the tricyclic

antidepressants, in particular clomipramine (Anafranil).”

(2006). Most of the medications used in treatment of

obsessive-compulsive disorder prevent serotonin from

returning to the original neurons and instead attach to

the nearby receptor sites and reduce anxiety and,

therefore, reduce anxiety induced obsessive-compulsive

thoughts. “SSRIs seem to be the most effective drug

treatments for OCD, and help about 60% of OCD

patients, but do not ‘cure’ OCD” (2006).

Studies have shown that undernourishment can

also lead to obsessive-compulsive disorder in some


cases. Eating a healthy diet and keeping in shape can

help reduce rituals developed.

Without treatment sufferers may find it very hard

to function in normal life. Frequent unwanted thoughts

can lead people to live in isolation in fear they might do

something they don’t want to. Spending all day on a

ritual to lock the door a certain number of times and

taking long showers to stay clean will make time to

socialize much smaller. People with obsessive-

compulsive disorder often blame themselves and feel

guilty for everything they do towards others. Afraid to

cough too near them, to accidentally hit them, or even

hurt their feelings are some things commonly feared by


When children develop this chronic illness, the

parents will often times blame themselves for it. “Often,

parents feel guilty, thinking the OCD is somehow their

fault.” (2003). In order to efficiently treat the disorder

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and diagnose it, everyone has to realize it is nobody’s

fault first. The family often times contributes to the

severity of the obsessive-compulsive disease by

performing the victim’s obsession out themselves to

appease the person. This doesn’t help and often helps

continue the person’s problem.

Most people with the illness do not realize they

need to get checked for it. “They’ve labeled themselves

as weird or strange.” (2003). Though it is most

commonly not life threatening to have, most people with

obsessive-compulsive disorder need to get it treated to

help them function in today’s society.

“Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder tends to be

slightly more common in females than in males.”

(2006). The media is to blame for this because of the

constant pressure for women to be perfect and meet

social standards. From very young ages children are

taught by either role model or by media that guys are

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party animals and girls are perfect. Men do not have to

worry about how they look or what kind of clothing they

are wearing, yet girls have to wear perfect matching

clothing and look their best every moment of their life.

Their obsession with looking good might translate over

to keeping their room perfectly neat. And then they

would develop a ritual or uneasiness if the room is


Another obsession the media could contribute to is

paranoia. Constant coverage on crimes and murders

will cause people to be afraid. And these fears will

cause people to lock doors habitually and develop a

habit. People that have heard about someone who lost

their thumbs because they crashed when their thumbs

were over the steering wheel would generally be afraid

to keep their thumbs over the steering wheel too, and

create an obsessive-compulsive disorder over the fear of

losing their thumbs driving.

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A false diagnostic in obsessive-compulsive

disorder appears to be very easy. With the combination

of vague detection methods and misunderstanding of

the disease, multiple doctors would diagnose the same

patient with different results. And besides the types

listed in this paper there are an infinite amount more of

possible types. What one doctor might think is

obsessive might seem logical to another. People

keeping doors locked and things organized aren’t

illogical, it is the amount that victims do it in is what is

too much or too little based on opinion.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an illness not

many people understand, but it is very easy to

understand. Often times, when people are diagnosed

with the disorder, the best way to overcome it is to

understand the disorder itself. If they understand it as a

random act of obsession, they can overlook the next

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time they are about to commit it realizing how trivial it

probably is.
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Works Cited

Hyman, B. M., & Pedrick, C. (2003). Obsessive-

Compulsive Disorder. Brookfield, Connecticut: Twenty-

First Century Books.

Karpacz, J. E., Mashburn, M., De Palma, M., Hall,

C., et. All (2002). Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

In Psychology, Fifth Edition (5th ed., p. 409). New York,

New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder. (2006, December

12). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved

14:37, December 15, 2006, from


First, Michael B.. (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical

Manual of Mental Disorders 4th Edition. Washington,

D.C.: American Psychiatric Association

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Obsessive Compulsive Foundation. Retrieved

14:37, December 19, 2006 from