Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

ObsessiveCompulsive Disorder

ObsessiveCompulsive Disorder

Mentalconditions affect millions of people in the world. Obsessivecompulsive disorder (OCD) is among the common types of mentalconditions in the world and it affects about 2 % of the globalpopulation (Kenyon &amp Eaton, 2015). This condition ischaracterized by two components, namely the compulsion and obsession.The term obsession refers to the recurrence of impulses, thoughts,and images (Kenyon &amp Eaton, 2015). Compulsion, on the other hand,refers to repetitive mental acts and behaviors. This paper willprovide a discussion of the OCD, with a focus on its history,theories used in diagnosis as well as treatment, differences in termsof age of onset and gender-based variations in diagnosis, impact onpatient and family members, and social perception.


Historyof OCD

TheOCD is a mental condition that affect individual from all socialclasses and ethnic backgrounds. The condition can be traced back inhistory, where its symptoms were discovered in famous people. Thefirst case to be put on record involved Martin Luther, who livedbetween 1483 and 1546 (OCD-UK, 2016). Luther was obsessed with thewrath of God that was prophesied in the bible. Luther was aProtestant Reformists who could mingle with his prayers whenever hethought about the forthcoming wrath of God (OCD-UK, 2016). In theperiod between 14thand 16thcentury, Europeans believed that members of the community whosuffered from obsessive thoughts (such as blasphemy and sexual ideas)were possessed by demons. Consequently, treatment was ineffectivebecause people tried to banish the evil spirits without realizingthat OCD is a medical condition.

Otherfamous people who are believed to have suffered from OCD include JohnBunyan (a writer and a preacher who lived in 1628-1688), SamuelJohnson (compiled an English Language dictionary and lived in1709-1784), and Charles Darwin (lived between 1809 and 1882) (OCD-UK,2016). The list of people who expressed symptoms of OCD indicatesthat some of the breakthroughs made in science, human rights, andreligion were brought about by individuals who would be classified asmentally ill characters in the modern society. The journey towards asuccessful treatment of OCD started in 1910 when Sigmund Freudattributed OCD behaviors to the occurrence of unconscious conflicts(Fava, Bizzi, Bellantuono, Cesario, Nuzzo, Costa, Gazzellime,Macchini, Lacono, Marfisi, Pecorario, Saccucci, Esposito, Stefani,Turreni &amp Mancini, 2014). The OCD symptoms are attributed tothese conflicts. Freud’s discovery provided a new perspectivethrough which the society could view the mental condition.

PsychologicalTheories Related to OCD

Theprocesses of diagnosis and therapy for OCD are informed by cognitiveas well as behavioral theories. These theories are used to explainthe mechanisms that lead to the occurrence of key symptoms, thusproviding guidance on how to treat OCD. For example, the learningtheory holds that OCD occurs when a person learns negative behaviorpatterns and thoughts over a long period (Favaet al.,2014). These negative behaviors result from one’s life experiencesor an environment in which the affected person lives. The applicationof the learning theory in the therapeutic process is based on thesupposition that all behaviors that one has learned in life can beunlearned by being introduced to a set of positive ideas andexperiences.

Professionalswho apply cognitive theories to explore OCD hold that the mentalcondition affect people with faulty beliefs. These beliefs result inthe misinterpretation of intrusive ideas and thoughts, whichculminates in the occurrence of OCD (Favaet al.,2014). Cognitive theorists hold that all human beings experiencenegative and intrusive thoughts, but people suffering from OCDdemonstrated inflated misinterpretation and the sense ofresponsibility. The sense of responsibility results in catastrophicconsequences. Obsession occurs when the affected people misinterpretintrusive thoughts repeatedly. In addition, the affected peoplebelieve that they can neutralize and block obsessive thoughts byengaging in compulsive behaviors (Favaet al.,2014). Therefore, effective treatment can be achieved by helpingpatients deal with obsessive thoughts without the need to engage incompulsive behavior.

Inaddition, therapists can use the psychoanalytic theory to diagnoseand deliver therapy to the affected clients. The theory holds thatunconscious discomfort and conflicts that people experience duringchildhood is the primary cause of OCD (Favaet al.,2014). Therefore, therapists who adopt the psychodynamic theory focuson helping their clients deal with their childhood experienceswithout engaging in compulsive behaviors.

Differencein Age of Onset and Gender-Based Variations in Diagnosis

Genderand age differences in the onset as well as the diagnosis of OCD arefields of interest for modern scholars and researchers. Studies haveshown that the first set of signs of OCD among boys is diagnosed atthe age of 5-6 years (Beyond OCD, 2016). The onset of OCD among girlsoccurs during adolescence, but the cause of gender-based differencein terms of the onset of the mental condition has not beenidentified. However, the condition is diagnosed on the basis of thesame criteria in patients of both genders. This is based on thefindings of a study showing that there is no significant differencein the type as well as the severity of symptoms expressed by male andfemale patients (Kenyon &amp Eaton, 2015).

Impactof OCD on the Client and the Family

Theoccurrence of OCD affects all aspects of the patient’s life. Theeffects of this mental condition can be quite devastating because acombination of compulsion and obsession burns up a lot of patients’time, which affects their social as well as family life (Favaet al.,2014). Compulsion and obsession also result in a poor academicperformance. Most importantly, people living with OCD experiencenumerous detrimental effects, but three of them are quite common andaffect their lives directly. First, the OCD patients tend to developan idea that they are crazy, which results in their withdrawal fromtheir peer groups. This is attributed to the strong urge to engage incertain behaviors and recurrence of obsessive thoughts that force theaffected people to believe that they are different from their peers(Kenyon &amp Eaton, 2015).

Secondly,patients who take long before seeking for assistance from aprofessional therapist suffer from low self-esteem and severedepression. The condition gets out of control and they becomepowerless.

Third,OCD patients suffer from negative physical effects, besides thepsychological impacts of the mental condition. The negative effect ofthe condition on the physical health of the patient is attributed toa strong urge to not only engage in certain rituals, but also do themin a perfect way (Favaet al.,2014). In the long-run, the patient’s body wears out due toengagement in rituals for long hours and on a daily basis. Therituals may also result in the development of certain diseases, suchas heart conditions and skin lesions.

Relativesof the affected family member develop resentment, especially whenthey feel that the mental condition is a source of embarrassment.Members of some families feel frustrated and become confused. Thisis common among families that fail to comprehend the cause of theexaggerated behavior and how to live with it (American Associationfor Marriage and Family Therapy, 2016). Apart from the psychologicaleffect of the OCD condition, relatives of the affected person areaffected financially because they have to spend a lot of money toseek for medical care of their loved one. In addition, families mayend up breaking up, especially when some members leave the houseafter feeling that they cannot cope with the mental condition.

SocialPerception of OCD With Respect To Stigma and Advocacy

Patientssuffering from OCD experience stigma that come from their familymembers and the society. People who feel irritated by repetitivecompulsion and obsession disassociate themselves with the OCDpatients (AAMFT, 2016). This stigma is associated with the lack ofunderstanding. Advocacy measures are taken by individuals andnon-governmental organizations with the objective of increasingpublic awareness about the medical condition. By enhancing publicawareness the stakeholders in the health care sector will be able tominimize stigma and encourage the affected people to seek forprofessional help.


TheOCD is among the most common type of mental conditions that canaffect all people, irrespective of their gender differences. It ispossible that OCD has been in existence throughout human history, butavailable literature indicates that the condition was discoveredbetween 14thand 16thcentury. Diagnosis as well as the treatment of OCD can be based ondifferent theories, such as the learning, cognitive, andpsychodynamic perspectives. Signs of OCD can be seen at an earlystage among boys than girls, but this difference has not beenexplained scientifically.


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BeyondOCD (2016). What is OCD? BeyondOCD.Retrieved August 3, 2016, fromhttp://www.ocdeducationstation.org/ocd-facts/what-is-ocd/

Fava,L., Bizzi, A., Bellantuono, S., Cesario, L., Nuzzo, D., Costa, B.,Gazzellime, S., Macchini, P., Lacono, A., Marfisi, D., Pecorario, C.,Saccucci, D., Esposito, M., Stefani, R., Turreni, S. &amp Mancini,F. (2014). Review of obsessive compulsive disorders theories. GlobalJournal of Epidemiology and Public Health,1, 1-13.

Kenyon,M. &amp Eaton, O. (2015). Age at child obsessive-compulsive disorderonset and its relation to gender, symptoms severity, and familyfunctioning. Archivesof Scientific Psychology,3, 150-158.

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