Written By Aarav Kumar (Grade 7)
In 1691, John Moore, the Bishop of Norwich, preached before Queen Mary II on “religious melancholy”, saying that some devout worshippers faced “naughty and sometimes blasphemous thoughts despite all their efforts to stifle and suppress them”. This was one of the first public presentations of what we now call Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or OCD. OCD affects around 2% of the world’s population, and can completely change a person’s life. This is a disorder which needs much greater awareness than is present today.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is often dismissed as a minor problem, as the layman considers it to simply be a form of perfectionism. However, it can be of great consequence. The cause of OCD has not been discovered; however, genetics is believed to play a role. There may also be certain abnormalities in the brain, such as unusually high activity in certain areas. It can also be induced by child abuse, bullying and other stressful events. It normally surfaces during childhood and adolescence and involves obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are repetitive and undesirable thoughts haunting the affected. They can be excessive perfectionism, fear of contamination, and more. To reduce anxiety related to these obsessions, sufferers of OCD create rituals, or compulsions, which are often time-consuming and irrational. They may seem to provide relief, however, they can lead to further complications. It is incredibly hard for the person to control these compulsions, even if they try their best. A person may obsessively cleanse their hands to calm their fear of contamination, but this excessive washing can make their hands red and raw. These illogical compulsions occupy at least 1 hour of the person’s time per day and can harm one’s quality of life greatly. One example is that of Nikola Tesla, the scientist, who was obsessed with the number 3. At the pool, he used to swim exactly 33 laps; he circled a city block 3 times before entering a building, and only inhabited hotel rooms divisible by 3. He was also unable to enjoy food until he mentally calculated the volume. OCD can also destroy relationships, as living with a person suffering from OCD can be exhausting. It can also divert a person’s attention from more important things like work or school. It is exceptionally destructive for students, who cannot focus enough on academics or co-curricular activities, thus harming their future prospects. Some might even be bullied for their differences. In more severe cases, people may experience depression and suicidal tendencies, and adolescents are highly vulnerable to this. Therapy and medications can help, but OCD is often lifelong. This goes to show that OCD is much more than an urge to arrange items perfectly; it is a serious illness.
OCD is one of the most commonly misconstrued illnesses; if not addressed, it can be devastating to a person’s life. This is why it is necessary to seek treatment for it. This is a disease which affects hundreds of millions across the globe, many of them students, and we must resolve to raise awareness towards it.
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