Obsessive–compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear, or worry, by repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing anxiety, or by a combination of such thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions).
From the 14th to the 16th century in Europe, it was believed that people who experienced blasphemous, sexual, or other obsessive thoughts were possessed by the Devil.
Based on this reasoning, treatment involved banishing the “evil” from the “possessed” person through exorcism.In the early 1910s, Sigmund Freud attributed obsessive–compulsive behavior to unconscious conflicts that manifest as symptoms.
Freud describes the clinical history of a typical case of “touching phobia” as starting in early childhood, when the person has a strong desire to touch an item. In response, the person develops an “external prohibition” against this type of touching.
However, this “prohibition does not succeed in abolishing” the desire to touch; all it can do is repress the desire and “force it into the unconscious”.
A typical person with OCD performs tasks, or compulsions, to seek relief from obsession-related anxiety.
Within and among individuals, the initial obsessions, or intrusive thoughts, can vary in their clarity and vividness.
A relatively vague obsession could involve a general sense of disarray or tension accompanied by a belief that life cannot proceed as normal while the imbalance remains. A more articulable obsession could be a preoccupation with the thought or image of someone close to them dying.
Other obsessions concern the possibility that someone or something other than oneself—such as God, the Devil, or disease—will harm either the person with OCD or the people or things that the person cares about. Others may sense that the physical world is qualified by certain immaterial conditions. These people might intuit invisible protrusions from their bodies,or could feel that inanimate objects are ensouled.
While some people with OCD perform compulsive rituals because they inexplicably feel they have to, others act compulsively so as to mitigate the anxiety that stems from particular obsessive thoughts. The person with OCD might feel that these actions somehow either will prevent a dreaded event from occurring, or will push the event from their thoughts. In any case, the individual’s reasoning is so idiosyncratic or distorted that it results in significant distress for the individual with OCD or for those around them.
Excessive skin picking or hair plucking and nail biting are all on the Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum.
Individuals with OCD are aware that their thoughts and behavior are not rational,but they feel bound to comply with them to fend off feelings of panic or dread.
I Will Not Make Boring Art (1972)