Just because a person carries out ritualistic actions or worries once in a while does not necessarily mean that he/she suffers from OCD. It is important to remember that a behavior is considered a disorder only when it starts to interfere with one’s daily life – consuming every aspect of it and impairing a person’s ability to perform regular functions (e.g., working, establishing good interpersonal relationships).
A mother who double checks her child’s safety belt more than once before starting her car does not automatically suffer from OCD just because a behavior was repeated. In contrast, an OCD patient may spend between hours to even an entire day worrying about something and/or thinking of ways to prevent bad things from occurring. Although OCD patients are aware that their lives are being disrupted, they have difficulty controlling these disruptive thoughts and behaviors ("Obsessive Compulsive Disorder", 2005). They know that these thoughts and actions are not normal but they cannot stop them. This is what differentiates these types of repetitive thoughts and actions from regular rituals that people perform to ensure order, cleanliness, and safety (e.g., checking for locked doors, arranging files alphabetically for easier access). There is a desire from the person to rid himself of these thoughts and behaviors, but this desire is overruled by his obsessions and compulsions.
According t According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Fact Sheet on OCD (2005), some symptoms may include but are not limited to the following: cleaning, such as repetitive bathing or inability to hold door knobs. arranging and organizing, wanting everything in a particular order all the time. mental compulsions, such as silently saying phrases or prayers to self. hoarding and collecting various items such as magazines and newspapers, forming piles. and repeated checking, possibly retracing driving routes. Foa and Steketee (as cited in Hilgard, 1953) discovered that the most common compulsions among the list are washing and checking.
Almost always, these actions are carried out because of doubt. OCD patients always think that something bad will happen and do not to rely on their senses alone. At the back of their minds, they believe that there are always things that they cannot see (or foresee). For example, a person with OCD may always believe that germs are always there despite repeated washing, or he may think that he forgot to switch an appliance off even after checking the switch numerous times. Rachman &. Hodgson as well as Stern &. Cobb concluded that these patients are concerned mostly about: completing tasks, preventing harm (self and others), and contracting illness from germs (Hilgard, 1953).
In the film "As Good As It Gets," Jack Nicholson’s character is a good example of a patient suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. He repetitively washes his hands, each time with a different bar of soap. It takes a long time for him to finally cease this hand-washing session. His cabinets were filled with an unending supply of soaps to accommodate this compulsion. Although seemingly extreme, many OCD patients exhibit behaviors that are beyond normal (perhaps even more pronounced than in this example), which shows that the disorder may really become an impediment to normal functioning, especially when the rituals take over most of their time and effort, robbing them of time to do