Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of psychological disorders, which is characterized by thoughts, ideas, behaviors, feelings and sensations that lead a person to do something. These actions may be named as obsessions or compulsions. According to the research, obsessive ideas are usually uncontrollable and persistent thoughts or images that a person cannot stop thinking about, though realizing that they are unreasonable (Eriksson, 2000). Common obsessive thoughts that are oftentimes used may include repeated hand washing after shaking, fear of losing things or being contaminated by germs, double-checking of such things as switches, locks and appliances, accumulating junk things, such as empty food containers or old clothes, etc.
The research asserts that people with obsessive-compulsive ideas and thoughts usually try to control their behavior, but they are unavailable to act differently. Such situations are rather stressful and inconvenient for a person and all their attempts lead to significant anxiety or distress. These obsessive-compulsive thoughts cannot be confused with daily worrying, for example, interpersonal relations, health, exams or paying bills, because they can be changed with circumstances. Only those thoughts, images and feelings are considered psychological disorders, which cannot be controlled or changed with individual efforts and actions.
There are certain criteria to define obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions, according to the research, are usually characterized by four main criteria, such as: 1) thoughts, images and feelings, which may cause anxiety and distress; 2) these thoughts, images and feelings are not ordinary worries about casual things; 3) a person realizes unreasonable character of his persistent worries trying to get rid of them; 4) individuals are trying to suppress these thoughts and feelings, but this does not bring any relief. On the other hand, compulsions are defined by two main criteria: 1) individual mental acts and behavior are directed to prevent his/her actions, but they cannot change the situation; 2) individual behavior, thoughts and feelings are not a result of psychological effects or medical conditions.
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