Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Repetitive obsessive behaviors may be a symptom of the disorder. However, it can also be harmless and ritualized. Obsession can be a personality trait as well.

Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Özlem Özcan, MD defines that people with obsessive personality, tend to be perfectionist, occupy with details, be rigorous about time, and live their lives trying to make no mistakes. Dr. Özcan emphasizes that one of 5-6 person has obsessive personality traits. She says; “These people seem successful and perfect, however, they experience problems in their personal relationships. They can emphatize but can’t implement to their lives. They have difficulty in experessing their feelings. They have unflexible personal traits and it is hard to change their ideas. They have impassable principles and have difficulties in anger management. They produce perfect things but they are unhappy in their lives”




How obsessions are evaluated in psychiatric perspective?

Obsessions are evaluated in three categories: First, diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder; second, obsessive personality; third, symbolic, ritualized behaviors that are not accepted as a disorder.


What are the ritual obssessions that don’t affect our daily life?

Cleaning and order are seen widely among adults. Excessive cleaning at home, order of belongings, meticulousness on timing and programming... The most common behavior in this group is hand washing. Preoccupation with detergent, making long baths, shampooing the hair 7-8 times, and repetition of cleaning of body for 8-10 times are seen widely. If these behaviors don’t affect the daily life and people around him/her, “a perfectionist, clean, rigorous” personality trait reveals.


How this personality trait affects work life? 

These people are rigorous and perfectionists in their work live and have high level of success. Their job responsibilities are well-developed and make little mistakes. This personality trait may cause success but, it may also cause anxiety.


If cleaning obsession is exaggerated…

These people are located in next level. It includes sweeping the house frequently, washing carpets every day, and cleaning the windows. As the husband and the child come home, they are forced to clean their shoes in bathtub and make bath. Otherwise, they can’t be included at home. This excessive cleanliness bothers the husband and the child. However, life continues that way and it may cause the child to have some symptoms. 


How children are affected from their parents’ obsessive behaviors?

Children with obsessive parents, tend to suffer from constipation or encopresis. The child experiences this, even if he/she completed his/her toilet training. Also, stuttering is widely common in children with obsessive parents.

The child may have over expectation from oneself about classes. These kinds of children become successful in their education life. But, they can’t share their feelings or express themselves comfortably. If it gets too severe, these children may show obsessions and compulsions.




So, it is important for obsessive parents to be treated…

Of course. Even if the parents bring their child for treatment, when the dynamics of that family is evaluated, some problems stand out. Therefore, cooperation is important in treatment.


Why obsessions occur? Is it genetics or environment?

It is highly related with genetics. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is located on genetic diseases.




Can obsessive-compulsive disorder be treated? The person may think; “This is who I am, how it can be changed?”

Generally these people seem happy with themselves, or they look like they are happy. They don’t apply for the treatment by their own. Their relatives insist for the treatment. They are resisted to the treatment and it takes long time to change behavior patterns.


How is it treated?

Medication and psychotherapy are applied together. Desensitization techniques are applied with cognitive-behavioral therapy. Also, some antidepressants are used.




People with obsessive traits must be applying as a consequence a situation…

Yes. Because excessive obsessions and compulsions cause distortion in daily life, sleep patterns, and social interactions. They may experience nutrition problems. Depression is mostly seen with it.

It is also common among mothers. If the mother realizes that she is harming the child because of her obsessive traits, she may want to get help. Mothers with obsessive traits, push their children for success. They can say that their child should be successful and good at everything.


Is obsessive trait common in Turkish society?

It is very common. I can’t give you a statistical number but, 1 of 5-6 people has obsessive personality.


It must be hard to work with an obsessive personality manager or to have a partner or mother like that.

Of course. These people are under risk for mental health and they suffer a lot. But, there is nothing you can do. For example, since you can’t change your manager, you need to find ways to deal with him/her.


Can obsessive personality trait be changed?

Personality disorders are very hard to treat. Treatment is difficult with obsessive people. If that person doesn’t want or gets motivated, it is difficult for that person to change. But, in general, there is a decrease in these symptoms after 40-45 years old.


What kind of obsessions do children have?

Children at the age of 3-4 tries to provide a symmetry with their belongings. This is a characteristic of that age. Also, it disappears after 6 months or 1 year. After counseling to the family, these obsessions won’t be permanent. For 6-7 years old children, there is a stage that obsessions begin. It occurs when the child starts primary school. He/she has high anxiety on doing homework, occupies with details, uses too much erasers or make too many corrections. If the obsession will become a diagnosis, symptoms are seen around age 10. Boys suffer from this more than girls. Also, for our culture, it begins with frequent and long term of hand washing.


(Published in Yeni Asır newspaper on 30.12.2011)


web site izmir