Common Myths and Misconceptions About OCD

Posted by Phil Cardenas on Jul 29, 2013

“Oh she’s so OCD!” How many times have you heard someone say that when they mean an individual is particular about things? Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) isn’t about a distaste for clutter. Nor is it necessarily about compulsive organization, impulsive behavior, or an inability to focus on external matters. In fact, it’s often just the opposite.

OCD is a disorder that has a neurobiological basis. It affects people of all ages, genders, races, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds equally. In the United States, about 1 in 40 adults and 1 in 100 children have OCD. And according to the World Health Organization, OCD is one of the top 20 causes of illness-related disability for individuals between 15 and 44 years of age worldwide.

One of the more common mistakes is confusing Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder with OCD. The key difference is the word “personality.” A person with OCPD might demand that certain things be done or arranged in a certain way. That could involve insisting that their home be spotless, their closets or bookshelves be arranged just so, or that the dishwasher is loaded “the right way” every time. While these behaviors may seem odd to others and may even cause problems in interpersonal relationships, OCPD individuals see them as perfectly rational and normal..

An OCD sufferer is aware that their behavior and compulsions are abnormal and is disturbed by them. They desperately want to change, but are unable to do so on their own. They are called sufferers because they are.

Compulsive behavior is not necessarily OCD, either. Compulsive shoppers, liars, and gamblers may have treatable psychological problems, but they are not OCD. Obsession with a movie star or sports statistics isn’t OCD. Nor is the highly focused behavior associated with some forms of autism.

Finally, certain types of criminal behavior have been attributed to OCD, often in an attempt to justify them to authorities or a jury. Brutality or other forms of psychotic behavior are psychopathic disorders, not OCD.

Beyond OCD is dedicated to bring greater understanding of OCD to the public, its sufferers and their loved ones. An important first step for everyone affected by OCD is learning. If you think that you or someone close to you may be suffering with OCD, our website, BeyondOCD.org, offers in-depth resources for understanding what OCD is and is not, information about coping with OCD in yourself or a loved one as well as specific guides for children, teens, and college students. Our Expert Perspectives section has dozens of articles about the latest knowledge in OCD research and the most effective ways to treat it. Don’t forget to visit our blog, either. It has timely articles about the latest news relating to OCD and other topics of interest. 

The scientific understanding of OCD -- and how to treat it -- has increased significantly in just the past few years. New information is published frequently, and more mental health professionals are becoming actively involved in treatment and outreach.

Beyond OCD wants you to know that OCD can be treated and that relief may be closer than you think. If you want to learn more about OCD, its treatment options, and tap into our many other resources, take a few minutes to explore BeyondOCD.org. We’re here to help you get the information you need to get beyond OCD.

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