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 Post subject: Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
 Post Posted: Sat Aug 19, 2006 4:02 pm 
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

By Rtn. Shanthi Wijesinghe Exec. President (AMD)Association of Montessori Directresses, Chief Administration Officer – CCECD (Competence Centre for Early Childhood Development)

“Raji ! Are you still in there? What are you doing ? I have told you that you can’t take more than 10 minutes. That’s enough now. Come out at once!”

Raji cowered behind the bathroom door and looked down at her hands. They were bright pink – almost red. She caught sight of herself in the bathroom mirror. “Raji !” shouted another voice – this time her father. “I need to get ready too. How much longer will you be in there ?”

Raji unlocked the door gingerly lest her hands become “infected by germs” once again and fled past her bewildered parents into the room. She threw herself on the bed and began sobbing so loud that her parents became very confused at this 6 year-old’s behaviour. How can such a sweet child behave so ?

Gradually they noticed other things too. She wouldn’t say goodnight by kissing them but would shout it out from her bed. Her grandfather was rather irritated one day when he found her recoiling from his hug. As a rule she did not touch her plate but merely picked up the food from between her teeth ! Touching cutlery was completely out of the question although at times she would pick at her food with her fingers. She would however, drink gallons of anything through a straw. It took a further year to consult with a doctor who diagnosed Raji as having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder(OCD).

Raji is now a young woman with large shadows of the trait looming over her. Much of it has been taken care of but there are instances where she is a complete mystery to strangers.

Wickedly Ignorant !

As a youngster, I remember hearing snatches of conversation about a relative whose actions were a standard joke at family gatherings. It was said that if guests were invited to lunch they would sit for the meal by dinner time because the lady of the house believed in extreme cleanliness and would scrupulously wash onions at least 5 times; together with the knife and the chopping board. Same for the vegetables. Same for cutlery and crockery. Same for all the utensils.

It was also passed round that she had once scrubbed a chicken with a coconut husk than the bird wearied and wouldn’t cook ! Unkind remarks made due to ignorance !

No Joke !

OCD is a type of anxiety disorder. The symptoms are:

- obsessions (persistent and irrational thoughts) and
- compulsions ( uncontrollable and repetitive acts )

With OCD, someone may have obsessions about:

- germs or dirt
- illness or injury (involving the person or someone else)
- coming across unlucky numbers or words
- things being even or straight
- things being perfect or just right in a certain way
- making mistakes or constant indecision
- doing or thinking something bad

They are defenses against anxieties. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is when some people begin to lose control of what once were normal routine actions.

They cannot stop the intrusive behaviours and thoughts that occur, although they are aware of the irrationalism of their actions. They feel powerless against them.

Research suggests that OCD involves communication problems within the front part of the brain, (the orbital cortex), which controls the functions of the eyes and which also contains sensory neurons, and a deeper structure, the basal ganglia, which is located in the cerebral hemisphere and which relays commands that coordinates large muscle movements. This means that the transmitter molecule, (which would be the serotonin), cannot carry on the required functions because there is a low concentration present in the brain. Serotonin is a transmitter that is involved in sleep and emotional arousal.


Although no specific genes for OCD have been found, research implies that genes do play a role in the development of the disorder. Childhood Obsessive Compulsive Disorder tends to run in the family. When a parent has OCD there is a five- percent chance that the child would inherit and develop OCD.

Scientists do not know the actual cause of OCD, but psychologists believe it could be genetic and can also be caused by insufficient amounts of serotonin in the brain. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can cause extreme distress, and occupies a great deal of time in treating, coping, and realization. OCD can also interfere with a person’s work, social life and relationships.

The relationship between obsessions and compulsions is less clear in children than in adults. Adults are able to describe their obsessions and compulsions and distinguish the similarities. Children are unable to describe their fears and they often report that they don’t know why these fears occur. Children with OCD have poor frustration tolerance and coping skills and they may respond to their illnesses by shouting, tantrums, or aggressiveness.

Researchers state that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, being a psychological disorder, can never be cured but only treated effectively with the treatments available. The treatments can also take a long period of time to have a full benefit and effect on the patient’s life. The affected person will also have to be on a continuous check so those repetitive acts do not occur in the future.

It is important to realise that treatment with psychiatric drugs is not the only answer. Counselling and psychotherapy, especially cognitive therapy, has been shown to be very beneficial and can make a marked improvement in the symptom picture of people with OCD. The earlier that counseling or therapy is begun, the less chance symptoms have of becoming entrenched, although therapy can be beneficial at any stage. Therapy should be carried out by a Licensed Counselor or Clinical Psychologist who is experienced in the field of OCD.

Normal Worry or OCD?

Of course, it’s normal to worry now and then. Everyone does. Kids may worry about getting lost or that something will happen to their parents. They may sometimes feel afraid that they will get sick or hurt. It’s normal for kids to worry once in awhile about burglars, fires, floods or earthslips or like recently – tsunamis. Sometimes, worrying can help kids learn how to be safe and careful. Normal worries come and go without causing too much of a problem.

Kids with OCD can end up spending so much time on rituals that they have little time left for the things they really do want to do. Here are some examples of compulsions:

- lots of hand washing or showering (continuing to engage in repetition of manner)
- counting (like having to count 25 white cars before going into school)
- touching (like touching every single lamp post between home and the bus stop)
- scrutinizing over things (such as doors, locks, or stoves)

doing things a certain number of times (like having to try on five dresses before leaving the room)

- arranging things in a very precise manner
- asking the same question repeatedly
- tying and retying shoes until they ‘feel just right’

When does Obsessive Compulsive Disorder begin?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can begin from the period of preschool, which is about the age of three, to adulthood, which is the age of forty. Only a fraction of adults with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder report that it began during their childhood years.

To join our parent- support group, for more information or help please call 077-900-5346/5419129(Mondays/Wednesdays & Fridays 11.00 am – 6.00 pm) or email: ccecdsrilanka@yahoo.com or write to : CCECD, 713, D.P.Wijesinghe Mw., Pelawatte, Battaramulla.

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