OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER (OCD)

  
The DSM IV TR number is 300.3. Go here for the diagnostic criteria: http://behavenet.com/capsules/disorders/o-cd.htm.

This is a complex disorder that consists of two components, obsessive thoughts that are intended to be satisfied by compulsive actions. Obsessive refers to obsessed and repetitive beliefs/ideas (the thoughts) that one has while Compulsive refers to the need/urge/compulsion to manifest a specific or ritualistic behavior (the actions) demanded by the obsession. The thoughts are usually accompanied by various feelings that generate debilitating levels of anxiety that necessitate a need to perform actions in certain ways in order to feel O.K. or "just right." While the person with OCD realizes that much, if not all, of this disorder doesn't make sense, they are, nevertheless, relentlessly caught in it's grip. OCDers have a hard time extricating themselves from the grips of the endless OCD Loop and finishing. In essence, they never know when they are done.

In my work with teenagers with OCD, I sense that they can't get out of their own way. They seem stuck in neutral, an indication of cognitive inflexibility, as their brain struggles to get in gear and finish the business at hand. I know for me that OCD moments are painful from the inside out, generating anxiety that feels as if someone is running their fingernails down my internal chalkboard. It is that discomfort, sometimes severe, that drives OCDers to align everything, to insure that everything is in its proper place in order to assuage the anxiety and pain. I think it's important to desensitize OCDers by confronting them with their specific compulsion. In other words, confront them with it and then impede, if not prevent, them from performing the compulsive action.

Several other conditions, such as TS and ADHD, discussed on Bridging The Chasm have OCD as a co-morbid condition. It is also often seen in conjunction with eating disorders.

A well written piece with a list of common obsessions and compulsions is on the OCD Foundation website at: http://www.ocfoundation.org/what-is-ocd.html.

Tourette Syndrome
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Intermittent Explosive Disorder
Bi-Polar Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder

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