Obsessive Compulsive Disorders

In this condition an individual experiences obsessions or compulsions or both.

Obsessions are recurring words, thoughts, ideas, or images that, rather than being experienced as voluntarily produced, seem to invade a person's consciousness despite his attempts to ignore, control, or suppress them.

The obsessional thought or topic is perceived by the sufferer as inappropriate or senseless; the idea is recognized both as alien to his nature and yet as coming from inside himself.

An obsession can take the form of a recurrent and vivid fantasy that is often obscene, disgusting, repugnant, or senseless.

The patient with obsessional ruminations holds endless debates over mundane matters inside his head; e.g., "Did I forget to lock the front door behind me?"

Obsessions in turn are frequently linked to compulsions.

These are urges or impulses to perform repetitive acts that are apparently meaningless, unnecessary, stereotyped, or ritualistic.

The compulsive person knows that the act to be performed is meaningless or unnecessary, but his failure or refusal to perform it brings on a mounting tension or anxiety that is temporarily relieved once the act is performed.

Obsessional ruminations thus directly produce compulsive behaviour; e.g., repeatedly checking and relocking an already secure front door.

Most compulsive acts have a simple, ritualistic character and can involve checking, touching, hand-washing, or the repetition of particular words or phrases.

Drugs, psychotherapy, and behavioral therapy are selectively successful in treating obsessive-compulsive disorders, depending on the individual patient.

The drug clomipramine has proved to be notably effective in reducing or even eliminating the symptoms in a large proportion of patients tested.