To simply state, this disorder includes either and or both obsession and compulsions. Below are more information about OCD:

Diagnostic criteria:
  • Obsession is defined as "recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that are experienced...as intrusive and inappropriate and that cause marked anxiety or distress"; however, "the thoughts, impulses, or images are not simply worries about real-life problems" (DSM-IV).
  • Patient with this diagnosis try "ignore or suppress such [anxious] thoughts, impulses, or images, or to neutralize them with some other thought or action" (DSM-IV). These actions that they take are included in compulsions, which "are not connected in a realistic way with what they are designed to neutralize or prevent or are clearly excessive" (DSM-IV). These include "repetitive behaviors (e.g., hand washing, ordering, checking) or mental acts (e.g. praying, counting, repeating words silently) that the person feels driven to perform in response to obsession" (DSM-IV).

  • Affective (emotions/attitudes):
    • Strong need and "urge to repeat certain rituals or behaviors" (NIMH).
    • "The obsessional thoughts, impulses, or images are a product of his or her own mind" (DSM-IV).
    • Doesn't "get pleasure from when performing the behaviors or rituals, but get brief relief from the anxiety the thoughts cause" (NIMH).
  • Behavioral:
    • Repetitive behaviors: "e.g. hand washing, ordering, checking", "locking and unlocking doors,...keeping unneeded items, or repeating the same steps again and again" (NIMH), "cleaning-...wiping household surfaces for hours on end; checking-repeatedly questioning whether lights switches are turned off or appliances are unplugged; arranging-needing cutlery or furniture ordered in a certain way" (Overcoming OCD).
    • Mental acts: "e.g. praying, counting, repeating words silently", "performing a task in exact order again and again, until it is done perfectly (if they are interrupted, they often need to start all over again)" (Human Body and Mind - Obsessive Behaviour).
    • "The content of the obsessions or compulsions is not restricted to" the mentioned actions: "preoccupation with food-> eating disorder; hair pulling-> trichotillomania; concern with appearance->body dysmorphic disorder" (DSM-IV); etc., etc...
    • The items above cause "marked distress" that lasts more than 1 hour a day, or significantly interfere with the person's" functionality in life (DSM-IV).

Praying is one of the behavioral symptoms seen in OCD.
Reed, Jill. Praying Hands. Photograph. Fotopedia. 22 Jan. 2008. Web. 20 Mar. 2012. <http://ko.fotopedia.com/items/flickr-2221223106>.

  • Cognitive:
    • Having recurrent and repetitive "thoughts or images about many different things, such as fear of germs, dirt or intruders; act of violence; hurting loved ones; sexual acts; conflicts with religious beliefs; or being overly tidy" (NIMH). This also includes: "flooding the house, causing a fire, or being burgled; concerns about exactness or symmetry; a need to tell, ask or confess" (Human Body and Mind - Obsessive Behaviour).
    • Incapability to "control the unwanted thoughts and behaviors" (NIMH).
    • "Indecisiveness-tendency to take time in making decisions" (Human Body and Mind - Obsessive Behaviour).
    • "Responsibility-an exaggerated sense of responsibility for their actions" (Human Body and Mind - Obsessive Behaviour).

This YouTube video of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory demonstrates one behavioral and cognitive symptoms of OCD: a fear of germs, intruders and diseases:


  • Typically OCD begins "during childhood or the teen years. Most people are diagnosed by about age 19. Symptoms of OCD may come and go and be better or worse at different times" (NIMH).
  • "until the 1980s, about 2 in every 1,000were thought to be affected by OCD. Recent studies have revised this figure to 2 out of every 100 people" (NIMH).
    • "some OCD sufferers are so afraid of being misunderstood by others that they become very skillful at hiding their symptoms" (NIMH).
  • "One in 40 U.S. adults has OCD. That's between 6-9million Americans" (Overcoming OCD).

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<Works Cited>
American Psychiatric Association. "Anxiety Disorders." Quick Reference To The Diagnostic Criteria from DSM-IV-TR®. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publ., 2000. . Print.
"Human Body and Mind - Obsessive Behaviour." BBC - Homepage. British Broadcasting Corporation. Web. 19 Feb. 2012. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/mind/articles/disorders/ocd.shtml>.
"NIMH · What Is OCD?" NIMH · Home. National Institute of Mental Health. Web. 19 Feb. 2012. <http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-when-unwanted-thoughts-take-over/what-is-ocd.shtml>.
"Overcoming OCD—The College Student’s Guide." OCD Chicago. OCD Chicago. Web. 19 Feb. 2012. <http://www.ocdchicago.org/index.php/college/>.