There’s so much more to OCD than hand-washing …

washing handsIf you use Google Images and search “OCD,” what you end up with is a lot of photos of lame OCD jokes and of soapy hands.  It reminds me just how little the world really knows and understands obsessive-compulsive disorder.  Heck, before my own diagnosis, I myself pretty much thought of it as “that disease where you wash your hands a lot or have to tap the doorknob over and over.”  Insightful, Jackie.

While it’s true that contamination obsessions are a prevalent theme among OCD sufferers (I read somewhere that about 60% of OCD cases deal in this arena), that’s not the only obsessive theme.*  And even hand-washing is often misunderstood.  People just don’t understand that there are persistent, unwanted, intrusive thoughts that are driving the hand-washing or other compulsions.  Compulsions are a response to what I personally think is the darker half of the disorder: the obsessions.

* Other common obsessive-compulsive themes include a need for order or symmetry, hoarding, checking, sexual obsessions (including HOCD, in which a straight person obsesses about being gay, or a gay person obsesses about being straight), religion/morality/scrupulosity (my OCD world!), and aggressive thoughts around harming others or one’s self.  OCD is probably bigger, wider, and scarier than most people ever imagined.


6 thoughts on “There’s so much more to OCD than hand-washing …

  1. Thanks for the reminder, Jackie. It’s good to get the news out there that OCD is not all about washing and fear of germs. For a long time, my OCD centered on contamination, but it grew to include so much more. 😦

  2. Thanks for posting this. The world needs more OCD awareness as it seems to be widely misunderstood, even as the norm. I mean to say that by default if I meet a new person, I actually have to assume they DON’T know what OCD is like and that an explaining session is in order.

    I had a hand-washing problem as a child, but the other (particularly relationship-oriented) obsessions and compulsions have interfered with my life so much more.

  3. Good post, Jackie, and I agree with everything you say. I also have to remind myself that those who have not been touched by OCD likely do not know what it really is. I’m embarrassed to admit that when my son Dan told me he had the disorder the first thing I said to him was, “Are you sure? You never wash your hands!” Obviously I needed to be educated!

  4. I know i have OCD not too severe but enough to notice.

    i.e. i have to have all doors closed or things have to sit straight on the table if its not straight i get really anxious and annoyed also while i sleep i have to have all blankets straight if its folded i have to fix it up just silly things like that. But i find the more anxiety inhave the more it comes.

    I used to have it with washing my hands to the point of dermatitis.

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