Changing the Narrative: Destigmatizing Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

There are a plethora of unrecognized psychiatric disorders. Like other misunderstandings in history, this happened due to a lack of research or acceptance until more recently – but as you can see we are still a long way from reaching an understanding. complete.

One such misunderstood disorder is OCD or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. We often hear OCD attributed to a person who is clean, tidy and prefers things to be in a certain order.

It’s not correct. Although there are certain types of OCD that involve this behavior, the reasoning behind these actions is unique and very distressing for people with this diagnosis.

That’s why Reddit forums (and others) that originally featured “OCD-triggering” images are now referred to as “mildly infuriating.” Psychologically and physically, there is a significant difference between something that is “mildly infuriating” and “very distressing.”

What is TOC defined as?

The DSM-5 is the official diagnostic manual for mental disorders and was published in 2013. According to this document, OCD requires the presence of obsessions, compulsions, or both.

Obsessions: Recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges, or images that are experienced, at some time during the disturbance, as intrusive, unwanted, and which, in most individuals, cause marked anxiety or distress.

Compulsions: the individual attempts to ignore or suppress these thoughts, urges, or images, or neutralize them with a thought or action (i.e., by performing a compulsion).

Let’s take a look at some examples.


1. Harm OCD

The anxiety that comes with being home alone can distract many people. It’s a natural anxiety that comes with the initial change and unawareness. For some, this can be debilitating and lead to persistent lack of sleep, including those with OCD. The person may have lingering thoughts that someone is trying to break in with harmful intentions. These images and/or thoughts will come back and come back and come back. The only way to tame these thoughts is to check the locks on all the doors and windows in the house.

In this case, checking doors and windows is the constraint. For those with OCD, the compulsion temporarily installs anxiety. Doubt will return and the person is then forced to check the doors and windows again, because maybe they did it wrong the first time. A person with OCD may check repeatedly for more than 30 minutes before returning to bed. Once back in bed, there is a good chance that the doubt will return. The person is stuck in this pattern until they are satisfied, which can be physically harmful to them.

2. TOC contamination

A person with contamination OCD may be preoccupied with thoughts or feelings of cleanliness. When their anxiety returns and occupies their mind, the person may have to wash their hands repeatedly. Similar to checking locks, this person can wash their hands 5 times because that’s the number that feels best. They go back to normal until anxiety kicks in. Then they wash another 5 times.

This pattern can also become physically harmful, causing dry or ripped hands, and it wastes a lot of time getting rid of those dirty feelings.

What are the subtypes of OCD?

According to the NOCD blog, types of TOCs include, but are not limited to:

  • TOC “just right” – confidence in things that feel perfect
  • OCD contamination – obsessions about germs, disease and contagion
  • Existential OCD – intrusive thoughts on impossible questions
  • Harm OCD – intrusive thoughts about harming yourself or others
  • Pure O – intrusive thoughts accompanied by mental compulsions
  • Magical Thinking OCD – belief that one’s thoughts influence events in the physical world
  • somatic OCD – obsessions about one’s own physical movements or sensations
  • Suicidal OCD – unwanted thoughts or obsessions of committing suicide

In reality, a subtype is how a person’s OCD affects them in daily life. These are not part of the diagnosis or not officially recognized by the DSM-5, but are usually identified in such a way that they can be targeted for treatment.

How is OCD treated?

OCD is treated with a combination of psychotherapy and/or medication. The psychotherapy involved in the treatment of OCD generally targets certain obsessions a patient may have and exposes them until the patient is able to resist the urge to complete the compulsive response. While this does not change the person’s general obsessive-compulsive behaviors, it ultimately helps eliminate some of the time the disorder takes up in the person’s life and lessens the impact it has on the person’s performance.

As you can see, TOC is really not what society has fashioned. It’s time to change the narrative, so that those who suffer from OCD can be cared for and listened to.

If you’re interested, there are countless blogs with personal stories of those who have been diagnosed. Here are a few:

  • NOCD
  • Taming Olivia
  • Living with OCD

Reddit (r/OCD) is also a great place to read about common experiences within the OCD community. As always, be respectful and aware of trigger warnings when reading online, and understand that Reddit is a platform where anyone can share their thoughts and feelings, and may not always be more reliable than other services.