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  • Writer's pictureThomas DiBlasi

What is OCD?

Another interest of mine is OCD.

Do you have recurrent and intrusive thoughts about contamination (“Am I going to get AIDs from touching this door?”), harming others (“I can’t be trusted with a knife, because I don’t know that I’m not going to stab someone.”), or needing things to be just right (“I can’t pick up the phone yet. It only rang 5 times.”)?

OCD stands for obsessive-compulsive disorder and affects about 2% of the population. Obsessions are distressing, intrusive, repetitive thoughts, images, or urges that try as you may, you cannot get rid of. Compulsions are behaviors or thoughts that you perform, in an attempt to get rid of the obsession and/or decrease your stress. OCD is not what gets tossed around colloquially, but instead is more distressing than that. For example, someone with OCD might begin to obsess about whether or not they turned the stove off, and even though they saw the dial go to the off position five times, it doesn’t feel right, so they keep doing it until it does feel right. In this example, the obsession might follow this line of thought “Did I turn the stove off? What if I didn’t? The entire apartment building will go up in flames and it will be all my fault! I better walk back inside and make sure it is turned off and it feels right.” The compulsion here would be turning the stove off, not once or twice, but repeatedly doing it until it feels just right.

As you can imagine, doing this repetitively can be quite time consuming, and even then, it may still only offer temporary relief. Ask yourself what obsessions and compulsions you have. How is OCD impacting your life? Does it affect your relationships, work, school? Does it make you feel distressed? Whatever it is, know that there is help.

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