Good Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Research Paper Example
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Obsessive compulsive disorder
Obsessive compulsive disorder is a generalized anxiety disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder is a long lasting episode of constant unease and worry. People with anxiety disorders always fear something ‘dreadful’ will happen to them and remain nervous and fretting with an unknown fear lying at the back of their mind. Their lives then revolve unnecessarily upon their worry.
Obsessive compulsive disorder is a kind of anxiety disorder where people are afflicted by redundant thoughts, called obsessions or sometimes they feel they need to carry out certain behaviors, termed as compulsions, that they are unwillingly determined to execute.
An obsession is a constant, unwanted thought or idea that keeps recurring and becomes habitual of a person. It causes great distress and anxiety to an individual and is quite a wearisome ordeal for them. An example of this can be a student who may be unable to stop thinking she has forgotten to put her name on a test and may think about it continuously for several weeks until she gets the paper back. Another example may be a man who goes on a holiday and wonders the whole time whether he locked up his house or not. Or, a woman may hear a similar tune revolving in her mind again and again without conscious effort. In all of the cases above, the thought or idea is unwanted and much difficult to put away from one’s mind. Usually, people do suffer from minor obsessions which don’t last for a long time however sometimes these obsessions can continue for many days, months or years and they may consist of peculiar disturbing images.
As part of the Obsessive compulsive disorder, people may also experience compulsions, which are irresistible urges to repeatedly carry out some act that may seem strange, unwanted and unreasonable to them.
Whatever the compulsive behavior may be, people want to stop. These acts can be trivial and ritualistic of them, such as checking the stove to make sure all the burners are switcjed off or sometimes as unusual as washing one’s hands so repeatedly that they may crack and bleed.
The following passage is an autobiography of a person with obsessive compulsive disorder which can serve as an example:
A child thought that if he didn’t perform his work and habits in the correct way his parents would be killed. At night when he put his glasses on the dresser, he needed them to rest in an exact angle. If they didn’t, he had to get up at least seven times to fix them before he fell asleep.
Similarly, if he didn’t chip off the molding from the wall or didn’t set his closet the right way, didn’t read well or if he didn’t stay clean and proper, he felt his parents would die and he felt miserable that his inappropriate behavior would kill his parents. (Summers, 2000, p.42).
Although carrying out these compulsive rituals may lead to some immediate reduction of anxiety, this short-term relief is averted in the long run with the return of this anxiety. Often, in extreme cases, people experience severe anxiety and fretfulness.
The reasons as to why people incur Obsessive compulsive disorder have not been fully understood or recognized by psychologists and are a much debatable topic. However, research has shown that it can be caused by either several genetic, behavioral, neurological or biological, cognitive as well as any environmental factors that can be responsible to set off the disorder in a person at any particular time.
Biological factors have been evident in people in obsessive-compulsive disorder have structural disparities in the brain. Research has shown that they have enlarged stages of gray matter which means more joining points or neurons in the thalamus of the brain as opposed to people without obsessive compulsive disorder. A familiar example of this effect is the washing of hands after visiting the toilet. In a normal person, the impulse to wash the hands after using the washroom is generally to get rid of any harmful germs on their hands. Once they have washed their hands, they are free of these germs. However, in some individuals, the impulse to wash their hands over and over again in order to make them germ-free recurs and they find it hard to satisfy themselves. This is indicated by the brain’s inability to turn off or ignore the impulse to wash hands hence it is a repeated and obsessed action.
Psychologists who favor the behavioral perspective have taken a diverse approach that gives emphasis to environmental factors. They believe the fact that anxiety is a learned reaction to anxiety. An example for this would be a girl getting bitten from a dog. When the girl would see a dog anytime later, she would get terrified and run away- a behavior that alleviates her anxiety and it emphasizes her escaping behavior. After repeated encounters with dogs in which her avoidance behavior is reinforced, she may develop a full-grown irrational fear of dogs. Also, parenting styles can be responsible for obsessive compulsive disorder in children where they may grow overly cautious and conscious of themselves and their habits living under strict and demanding parents.
Hereditary factors can also be responsible for obsessive compulsive disorder as there have been reported cases of the anxiety disorder to run amongst generations of several people suffering from it.
However this theory, though plausible, is not certain because it is not necessary for two children being born twins who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder.
It can be stress or any traumatic incident in life that could cause the disorder in an individual by inducing the activity of their genes. Depression is also believed to cause obsessive-compulsive disorder in some people due to prolonged stress and anxiety the individual goes through.
The cognitive approach suggests that anxiety disorders of all forms grow out of adverse and erroneous ideas about certain state of affairs in a person’s life. For example, people suffering from anxiety disorders can be prone to thinking of a gentle animal as a wild or ferocious or might feel while traveling in an airplane that it will crash at any instant during the flight. Any repeated disturbing thought can lead to the development of obsessions and since these thoughts are quite disturbing to the individual, they resort to compulsive and obsessed behavior in a futile attempt to block and avoid their obsessive thought. Hence, according to the cognitive approach, people’s negative judgment about their surroundings is the root cause of an anxiety disorder.
The next step is to classify the people with obsessive compulsive disorder into the category of obsession they fall into. There are generally five to six distinct forms of obsessions in these people, and they usually portray one kind of obsession at a time.
They can either be washers, hoarders, checkers, doubters or sinners, counters, arrangers or individuals obsessed with symmetry. Washers fall into the category of people obsessed with washing their hands repeatedly in fear of contamination and germs. They can wash their hands to the extent that they may rough out and bleed. Hoarders are those who are obsessed with collecting things even if they are of no use to them, fearing they would be hit by disaster if they parted from anything they used or owned.
Doubters and sinners are those who fear that they need to be perfectionists in everything they do, even think, because if they won’t, they will be punished heavily or any tragedy may fall upon them. Checkers are people who like to check for things repeatedly until they achieve satisfaction, for example, checking for bolting the doors, checking the burners of the stove, checking if the switches are turned off- anything that can be associated with harming themselves or others if they are left unchecked, and they can be obsessed about these to the extent of performing long and tedious rituals just to achieve the satisfaction of feeling secure about their surroundings. Counters, arrangers and people obsessed with symmetry are those who are extremely conscious about things to lie in a perfect line, order, position and arrangement according to size or shape, whichever satisfies them the most. These people will always be straightening tilted photo frames, lining up articles of decoration according to size, arranging things in a symmetrical fashion and will not be able to resist the urge to keep themselves from straightening things by themselves even if they don’t belong to them. It is an irresistible urge they cannot fight and feel extremely irritated if they won’t get to arrange them. They can also suffer from counting compulsions, where they feel they have to do things in a certain ordained number otherwise something will go wrong. For instance, if a person is obsessed with the number four that carries any significance for him, he will repeat any task four times in order to achieve satisfaction.
The therapy for the treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder is cognitive-behavioral therapy. It is supplemented sometimes with medication, though on its own medication can rarely be of any use. The therapy is further divided into two; exposure and response prevention and cognitive therapy.
Exposure and response involve confronting the compulsive behavior or obsession and trying to get a hold of it. The therapy reinforces the patient to avoid their habit to reduce anxiety. For instance, a washer obsessed with clean hands would be asked to touch a bathroom doorknob and then not wash their hands afterward and reflect how their anxiety was useless, and they can control their behavior on their own. Cognitive therapy places focus on the disastrous thoughts of the patient and the overstated responsibility they feel towards doing any task. The major aim of the therapy is to help the patient to get rid of the compulsive and obsessive behavior in an effectual and healthy manner with a permanent treatment, and not resorting to the disorder again.
Other ways also include Family Therapy treatment, in which the treatment involves using the family members to cope with the patient and to help them curb with the obsessions which can also help to bring the family together as a unit. Another way is Group Therapy where an OCD sufferer can communicate with other OCD patients, and they can communicate with each other, discuss and try to overcome their obsessions together.
In my opinion, obsessive compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder that affects people who are usually affected by some trauma or by any environmental factors that propel them to get obsessed by anything that bothers them the most. Such people should not be shunned from society or be ridiculed rather they need to offered therapy and help and their obsessions need to be gotten rid of with adequate help and care. OCD is treatable hence people affected and their family need to recognize their disorder and they need to be treated in time.
Helpguide.org. (2013). Articles/Anxiety/Obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd.
Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/obssessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd.htm
Lawrence Robinson, Melinda Smith, M.A., and Jeanne Segal (December 2014),
Nhs. Uk. (2014). Conditions/Obsessive-compulsive-disorder/treatment. Retrieved from
Psych Central (Jan 2015). Disorders. Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/disorders/sx25t.htm
Web. Md. (2005-2015).Anxiety-panic/guide. Obsessive compulsive disorder.
Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/obsessive-compulsive-disorder
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