Lately I have noticed an increase in clients that are displaying symptoms of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). I suspect it is consistent with the helping professions’ reported escalation of anxiety in general. It is no surprise that in our stressful culture as well as the almost daily reports of tragic events in our world, anxiety has outpaced depression in the reason for seeking counseling. And OCD can develop as a response to feeling out of control.
Those who suffer from OCD can experience anywhere from mild to severe distress depending on how troublesome the symptoms are for them. Often the person may feel shame, or blame others for not accommodating their abnormal or disruptive behaviors.
I have a lot of grace and empathy for both the sufferer and those who live with them. Change takes time and effort and there may be core wounds that are painful. What I have found to be the best strategy to deal with this or many other challenges of this sort is as follows.
- Own it and be humble about it.
- Get educated about it – including any parties closely involved.
- Seek competent help, and be willing to take and follow advice.
- In a relationship treat each other kindly, but set appropriate boundaries.
Here is a checklist that will help you determine if you might be experiencing OCD. And if you see any imperfections in my formatting of this post, please let me know.
OCD CHECKLIST – Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz (Brain Lock)
Dirt and Contamination
Unfounded fears of contracting a dreadful illness
Excessive concerns about dirt: germs (including the fear of spreading germs to others); and environmental contaminants, such as household cleaners
Feelings of revulsions about bodily waste and secretions
Obsessions about one’s body
Abnormal concerns about sticky substances or residues
Need for Order or Symmetry
An over whelming need to align objects “just so”
Abnormal concerns about the neatness of one’s personal appearance or one’s environment
Hoarding or Saving
Stashing away useless trash, such as old newspapers or items rescued from trash cans
The inability to discard anything because it “may be needed sometime,” a fear of losing something or discarding something by mistake
Sexual thoughts that one views as inappropriate and unacceptable
Repeating routine activities for no logical reason
Repeating questions over and over
Rereading or rewriting words or phrases
Unfounded fears that one has failed to do some routine task, such as paying the mortgage or signing a check
Religious Obsessions (Scrupulosity)
Troublesome blasphemous or sacrilegious thoughts
Excessive concerns about morality and right and wrong
Obsessions with Aggressive Content
The fear of having caused some terrible tragedy, such as a fatal fire
Repeated intruding images of violence
The fear of acting out a violent thought, such as stabbing or shooting someone
The irrational fear of having hurt someone, for example the fear of having hit someone while driving
The belief that certain numbers or colors are “lucky” or “unlucky”
Cleaning and Washing
Excessive, ritualized hand washing, showering, bathing, or tooth brushing
The unshakable feeling that household items, such as dishes, are contaminated or cannot be washed enough to be “really clean”
Having Things “Just Right”
The need for symmetry and total order in one’s environment, for example, the need to line up canned goods in the pantry in alphabetical order, to hang clothes in exactly the same spot in the closet every day, or to wear certain clothes only on certain days
The need to keep doing something until one gets it “just right”
Hoarding or Collecting
Minutely inspecting household trash in case some “valuable” item has been thrown out
Accumulating useless objects
Repeatedly checking to see if a door is locked or an appliance is turned off
Checking to make certain one has not harmed someone, for example, driving around and around the block to see if anyone has been run over
Checking and rechecking for mistakes, such as when balancing a checkbook
Checking associated with bodily obsessions, such as repeatedly checking oneself for signs of a catastrophic disease
Pathological slowness in carrying out even the most routine activities
Blinking or staring rituals
Asking over and over for reassurance
Behaviors bases on superstitious beliefs, such as fixed bedtime rituals to “ward off” evil or the need to avoid stepping on cracks in the sidewalk
A feeling of dread if some arbitrary act is not performed
The overpowering need to tell someone something or to ask someone something or to confess something
The need to touch, taps, or rub certain objects repeatedly
Counting compulsions: counting panes in windows or billboards along a highway, for example
Mental rituals, such as reciting silent prayers in an effort to make a bad thought go away
Excessive list making