Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder characterized by anxiety provoking repetitive thoughts and uncontrollable compulsive behaviors and rituals aimed at relieving the anxiety. These obsessions often become very invasive and can impair overall functioning and reduce level of activities.

The type and intensity of symptoms vary from an individual to another. Obsessions and compulsions can be expressed in many ways such as:

  • The phobia of dirt, repetitive hand washing
  • Sexual obsession
  • The need to check
  • Violent or aggressive repetitive thoughts
  • Constant fear of hurting your loved ones
  • Calculating, counting
  • A need to touch surrounding objects
  • Compulsive, excessive, and uncontrolled shopping

Studies estimate that 2% of the general population is affected by some form of OCD.

What Does OCD Entail?

Although OCD can take many forms, the most common features include obsessive hand-washing, hoarding, contamination avoidance, and so forth. Recent theories suggest that the underlying anxiety often experienced in OCD is in fact, a fight or flight response to an over-active disgust reaction.

Identifying disgust triggers may be of great therapeutic value to psychologists, as it can help them focus and direct their psychology sessions accordingly.

How Disgust Relates to OCD

In general, disgust is triggered by anything that lacks order. Broadly speaking, anything that lacks hygiene, proportionality, symmetry, parallels, right-angles, similarity, reliability, and predictability tends to elicit a disgust reaction. Individuals with OCD tend to possess a more reactive disgust mechanism compared to the norm. The greater the disgust reaction is, the greater the subsequent anxiety will be.

Why Disgust Triggers Anxiety

As humans, we have evolved to detect things that could cause us harm. Historically, disgust has often been associated with poisonous insects, infections, and anything else that should be avoided to maintain a sense of safety. Our disgust mechanism allows us to identify things that should be avoided in our environment(disgust). The resulting anxiety causes avoidance of the disgusted stimuli or it causes us to fix it in order to alleviate the anxiety. These are essentially behaviors typically seen with all of us, except that with individuals suffering from OCD, those behaviors are exhibited to the point that it interferes with everyday life.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is treated generally with psychotherapy. In more severe cases it is recommended combine medication with psychotherapy. If you think you have OCD, do not hesitate to contact our psychologists in the Montreal area for an appointment.