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 or stress” (Butcher, Hooley, & Mineka, 2014), include contamination, somatic obsessions, aggressive obsessions, sexual obsessions, multiple obsessions, and pathological doubt. The common symptoms of compulsions (defined as: “repetitive behavior behaviors or mental acts that an individual feels that he or she must perform” (Butcher, Hooley, & Mineka, 2014), include counting, checking, washing, need to ask or confess, need for symmetry or exactness, hoarding, praying, and multiple other compulsions (Goli, Krishtan, & Ellinwood, 1991).
Those affected with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder do not derive pleasure while performing the behaviors or rituals, rather they get a brief relief from the anxiety that the recurrent thoughts cause, and as a result, sometimes report spending in excess of 1 hour a day on the thoughts and rituals, which cause distress and often interfere with daily life (What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?). The afflicted individual does, in fact, realize the futility of performing the rituals, yet finds himself compelled to continue performing the behavior without being able to stop. The duration and severity of the symptoms vary on a case by case basis, and manifest themselves in various ways. ...