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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder - Essay Example

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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD for short, is one of a series of psychological disorders sometimes known as Anxiety disorders, which include such conditions as Phobias, panic disorders, General anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. It is believed that OCD is between two and three times more common in the general population than either schizophrenia or Bipolar disorder and affects about 2 percent of the population (Strock, 1994), although it does seem to occur more regularly in those who suffer from depression and other psychological disorders (Strock 1994).
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Download file to see previous pages Unshakable belief: Anxiety and depression are both featured in OCD, and recent research has also pointed out the importance of unshakable belief systems in the development of OCD. O'Dwyer and Marks (2000) give the example of a young man who "Came to believe in a 'power' that could bring him luck if he could retain it within his possession through ritualizing" (O'Dwyer and Marks, 2000. Page 281). Initially, the rituals begin so that the man can keep his 'power'. Soon, however, a second set of rituals develop, in order to ward off evil. O'Dwyer and Marks considered that roughly a third of all OCD patients in a study were delusional.
Obsession: Obsession in OCD may take the form of compulsive thoughts and actions, the most well-known being the repetitive washing of hands. These should not be considered normal, everyday thoughts, but intrusive, repetitive and unwelcome thoughts and fears. Strock (1994) gives the example of a woman who was plagued with thoughts about harming her child: "She became terrified to use the kitchen knives of her sewing scissors. She knew she did not want to harm her child. Why did she have these distressing alien thoughts" (Strock, 1994). In OCD, the thoughts themselves can be innocuous, but it is the invasive nature of the thoughts, and the actions which are taken to get rid of them, which mark out OCD. In extreme cases, the OCD may take the form of hoarding, or collecting items, usually in massive quantities. Sufferers with this form of OCD may live in only a small space within their apartment, with the rest given over to the collection.
Compulsion: Compulsion is the other half of the obsessional thoughts; such compulsion might include: knocking at a door or chewing food a certain number of times, counting actions, excessive washing rituals, returning to check that the fire is out repetitively, and so on. The important features of these compulsions is that 1) they have to be performed again and again, one action may be repeated until it satisfies the compulsion.
Ritual Behavior: The elements of ritual are very important in the diagnosis of Obsessive-compulsive disorder. Rituals such as touching something a specific number of times may seem bizarre or psychotic, but the sufferer is compelled to perform them in order to ward off tragedy. OCD might be seen as a form of magical thinking, where an action is performed in order to protect an unrelated object, or prevent bad things from occurring. Sufferers may ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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