Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)


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Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder whose characteristics are repetitive unwanted thoughts, ideas as well as sensations. These can be referred to as obsessions. People with OCD usually have behaviors and feelings of being driven to carry out some task and this is referred to as compulsions (BehaveNet clinical capsule, 1996-2010).  Usually, these obsessions recur and persist and thus causing noticeable anxieties. With the obsessions then comes the feeling to respond to them and this is what is termed as compulsions. OCD is normally an act of the mind.

In most cases, people who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder carry out these behaviors as a way of getting free from these obsessive thoughts. However, though failure to clear these obsessive thoughts can lead to even greater anxiety, this is only temporarily a relief. This then leads to the people displaying the obsessions by having compulsions (Krebs et al, 2009; Shiraev & Levy, 2010). Furthermore, they are conscious of these unwanted obsessions but there is no way they can be able to overcome showing the obsessions, something that psychologically is a need.

Human development

In the ancient times, OCD was not common but nowadays it is very common and usually shows itself when people get to the age of 30 years. Therefore OCD needs to be thoroughly examined. When carrying out examination of OCD, it is necessary to take into account that relationship though complex that exists between socialization and development of human beings. With this, it is easier to know how the relationship between the two affects the people with obsessive compulsive disorder. Research has shown that obsessive compulsive disorder has both inheritance as well as biological causes (Azzam et al. 2008). According to Azzam et al (2008), generally OCD has a lifetime occurrence of between 1.6% and 3.7%. Report has shown that this further depends on the location, whether the place is rural or urban, and the ethnic background. Further, there is a high prevalence of children suffering from OCD. By children, Krebs et al (2009) refers to the ages of 5 to 15 years.

Obsessive compulsive disorder is a universal disorder. According to Azzam (2008), OCD has both genetic and social causes. Further, OCD has a between 13 and 44% co morbidity with Tourette syndrome and depression. Therefore, this proves that OCD presents itself in human beings in combination with other diseases. During times of OCD, patients show severe symptoms. Upon treatment, this reduces and there are periodical improvement times. Being a chronic illness, it is unusual to observe a total symptom free duration in the OCD victims. However, with treatment the condition greatly improves.


The world is made up of different people with different cultures. Each culture has a different perspective of mental illness. According to Pargament, Pirutinsky & Rosmarin (2009), these various perspectives of different cultures greatly affect the rate at which mental disorder is diagnosed. Different cultures will relate different mental disorders to various reasons. Therefore, when an individual has a mental disorder, the cultural beliefs may overlook it and disregard it as a common occurrence. These beliefs show the way in which mental illness will be taken in different cultures. Since the different cultures use different languages to give an expression of dysfunction, it can lead to difficulties in diagnosing OCD. This is because the culture built symptoms may differ from the standard symptoms. Thus, where people strongly hold to their cultures, diagnosis will be difficult because they will be in denial of the standard methods. An example of this is scrupulosity. Being an OCD, the religious practices of the Jews give different details about it as compared to the medical details.

Obsessions and compulsions have attracted different views on their actual content. For instance, the disorder has socioeconomic, religious and geographical foundations (Azzam et al, 2008). For example, a cross cultural study was carried out by comparing the US population and that of Costa Rica. The results showed that OCD was highly prevalent among the US population. Despite this, the level of impairment was less in the US population. This can thus be attributed to the culture of the people in US.

Unlike in the Costa Rica population, the US population does not hold strong cultures on OCD. That is why despite the disorder being more prevalent here, there was low level of impairment. The general US culture allows OCD to be taken as a disorder that needs medical attention and thus allowing more treatment than it is allowed in the specific beliefs in Costa Rica.Though different cultures define OCD differently, culture can not be overlooked when defining what this disorder consists of and the implications that it has on the person.

How OCD Affects Those Living with the Symptoms

Some of the people who suffer from OCD are overpowered by the disorder and this means that they spend most of their time trying to defend themselves. With the fear that they have of the disorder, they loose the believe that they can counter the effects of the disorder. Due to this, one can say that the person lives at a permanent level of crisis. Because of this mind set, response to any kind of treatment becomes poor. This is especially response to talking treatment which is very essential since this is a mental disorder. This then necessitates the use of medication which is believed to reduce the level of crisis.

OCD impairs the educational experience of children of the school going age. This is because of the OCD associated rituals. Children will normally feel embarrassed due to these rituals and thus their ability to properly function in the classroom and general school activities is impeded. In addition, the embarrassment adds to the already present anxiety and thus the children become less social and their levels of interaction with their peers are minimized (Krebs et al, 2009). To prevent the anxieties from mounting up on the child, they should be allowed to freely express their compulsions. Children can also be helped to mediate on their anxieties by application of the CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). Though this therapy may take a long time, it will be effective in the long run. Though social interaction compounds effects of OCD in humans, in children OCD is clearly a genetic factor.


Obsessive compulsive disorder is a universal disorder since it affects people of most of the ages, and both sexes. However, culture also plays a great role in the constituent, perception as well as the disorder’s effects. OCD is also genetically related though the rapid factors leading to the beginning or the disorder are bound to culture. If not well addressed, anxiety in OCD impairs the learning in children.


Azzam, A., Bagnarello, M., Chavira, D.A., Garrido, H., Mathews, C.A., Reus, V.I. (2008). A comparative study of obsessive-compulsive disorder in Costa Rica and the United States. Depression & Anxiety, 25(7), 609-619.

BehaveNet clinical capsule. (1996-2010) APA diagnostic classification: DSM-IV TR. Retrieved from: http://www.behavenet.com/capsules/disorders/dsm4TRclassification.htm. Accessed February 18, 2011.

Krebs, G., Lang, K., Stokes, C., Turner, C. (2009). Understanding obsessive compulsive disorder. British Journal of School Nursing, 4(8), 390-394.

Pargament, K.I., Pirutinsky, S., Rosmarin, D.H. (2009). Community attitudes towards culture-influenced mental illness: Scrupulosity vs. nonreligious OCD among orthodox Jews. Journal of Community Psychology, 37(8), 949-958.

Shiraev, E. B. & Levy, D. A. (2010). Cross-cultural psychology: Critical thinking and contemporary applications. 4th Ed. Boston: Pearson/Allyn Bacon.

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