Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is one of the most puzzling and misunderstood disorders in the book. To most people, excessive compulsions such as washing and checking appear to be illogical and the product of an irrational mind. Indeed friends and relations typically spend much time trying to convince the sufferer that their repetitive thoughts and acts have no basis in reason.
The truth is that the patient already knows this, so telling them that what they do is "pointless" makes no difference whatsoever. That is why OCD is such a puzzling disorder. The patient knows that what they do is harming their well-being - yet they cannot stop performing their rituals. If they try to stop they are quickly overtaken by anxiety, sometimes with panic attacks.
OCD comes in several forms. Safety OCD is typified by overwhelming thoughts regarding responsibility for avoiding catastrophe to self or others. For instance people may feel the need to be absolutely sure that switches and appliances are off, and are overwhelmed by doubt when they try to diect their attention to other everyday matters. Hence they feel compelled to go back and check their actions again and again.
In Contamination OCD the fear is of illness brough about by infectious agents (bacteria viruses) or by contact with dangerous substances. Sufferers may therefore spend huge amounts of time washing or showering in an attempt to keep clean. They may be overwhelmed by fear of disease and go to great lengths to avoid everything from dirt, slime & dust to mud, dog excreta, exhaust fumes, asbestos etc. etc. The list is potentially enormous.
Other forms of OCD include hoarding, fear of bodily fluids and so-called "mental contamination" where the patient can feel dirty not through direct contact with substances or infectious agents - but just by the thoughts associated with these.
At Tetes-a-tetes we have considerable experience in handling OCD, and there are treatments available which have a known success rate for all varieties of the disorder.