Originally published at rscpp.co.uk
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a condition estimated to affect around 740,000 people in the UK. It is characterised by intrusive, distressing thoughts and worries about harm, and people with OCD often believe the only way to relieve these obsessive thoughts is through compulsive, repetitive behaviours or rituals. In its most extreme form, OCD can have a seriously detrimental impact on people’s ability to go about their normal, day-to-day lives.
However, the term ‘OCD’ has also found its way into everyday language, commonly used to inaccurately describe normal quirks and habits that many of us have.
As Registered Counsellor Brenda Silverman explains: “OCD is something that many people label themselves as having, or use about people they know, when they display tendencies of one kind or another that are regular features of their everyday lives. I’m sure, if you think about it, you can list at least three habits or rituals you always do in the same order.”
She adds: “It is worth thinking about the things we do habitually and the reasons behind them. If they seem to have a valid reason, such as safety at home or cleanliness, or they’re routines that save us time, then they are probably quite useful and have just become part of our lives. The opposite is true of people really affected by OCD, as in some severe cases it can stop that person from fully living their lives.”
We asked Brenda, along with Accredited and Registered Counsellor Mo Cahill, to list some of the common, everyday examples of habits you might casually describe as OCD but which, in reality, almost certainly aren’t symptomatic of a serious mental health condition.