5 common misconceptions about OCD

Is OCD a cleaning disorder? Is everyone a little bit OCD?

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and in this post, I’ll try to answer some of the most common questions and bust 5 myths about OCD.

OCD is about cleaning

When I told one of my friends I had OCD, he’d reply to me: I can totally relate, me too I am pretty much addicted to cleaning. And let’s be honest: my friend was not the only one who thought OCD was a kind of cleaning addiction.

But OCD is not just about hand washing, cleaning and being neat. It’s much more complicated than that and while there are a lot of OCD sufferers who spend a crazy amount of time on keeping things neat and organized, people with OCD can have obsessions related to a much wider variety of things including:

fear of harming others/yourself (I used to be afraid of intentionally blinding myself: read my story)
unwanted sexual thoughts
fear of losing control
body focused obsessions (found a very nice article about this one: http://www.steveseay.com/ocd-core-fears-body-focused-obsessions-compulsions/ )

Want to learn more? Read my article about the 6 types of OCD: https://over-coming-ocd.com/2019/12/11/6-types-of-ocd/

Now, speaking about myself, I can tell you that I’ve never had any cleaning obsessions even though I was diagnosed with OCD a decade ago. My flat is definitely not too clean and it’s definitely one of the most disorganized ones I have ever seen. So when you see me sharing stories about contamination OCD or cleaning obsessions, those are usually the stories of my friends. (Obviously, with their permission!)

Oh, and yes: friends. Another reason why OCD is far from being a simple cleaning addiction is that people with OCD do not actually enjoy cleaning. They do it because they just have to do it – one of my friends is suffering from contamination OCD and he just has to clean his kitchen couple times a day, because he’s afraid that if he does not do that, something terrible will happen.

All the stereotypes made me wonder whether contamination OCD is more common than the other types, so I spent some time googling it and I’ve found some nice statistics:

Source: https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Obsessive-compulsive-disorder-in-children-and-Thomsen/933ca8b70b6a8fe9567e02b9b6df2006be903f7a

Now according to this, obsessions regarding dirt and infections are far more common than the other ones. One thing that I am wondering about:

Is it really more common or is it just more well-known, so people feel more comfortable talking about it?

Is it easier to talk about your fear of contamination than telling others that you’re afraid of pushing someone off a building?

To be honest, I do not have an answer to this question. Please share your thoughts in the comment section! Looking forward to reading your opinion!

Everyone’s a little OCD

1 in 40 people suffer from OCD. That’s a lot, but it’s definitely not “everyone”.
A lot of people have intrusive thoughts or even obsessions but that does not necessarily mean that they have OCD.
As I have mentioned above, OCD is so much more than a cleaning addiction or the love of symmetry: it’s a terrifying mental disorder that can easily turn your life into a living hell.

Doing a self diagnosis is definitely not the best idea, but if you’re interested at the clinical definition of OCD, please check this: http://beyondocd.org/information-for-individuals/clinical-definition-of-ocd

Now, you can not be a “little OCD” : you either have it or you don’t but Obsessive Compulsive Disorder has different levels of severity – called the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale.

OCD is a rare condition

One common misconception is that everyone is a little OCD – and another one is exactly the opposite: OCD is a rare condition. Now, if 1 in 40 people has it, then we can say it’s pretty common.

You can see when someone has OCD

If you just look at a person, you won’t be able to tell whether they have OCD. It’s not always obvious – or I can even say, it’s never obvious.
Simply because you do not know what’s going on in the other person’s mind. It can be very difficult to differentiate an addiction from a compulsion. I’ve found a pretty nice article that describes the differences between the two:

And secondly, obsessions and rituals are not always visible to others. OCD sufferers often have mental rituals, such as counting or repeating words in their head.

Source: Wikipedia

People with OCD do not know that what they are doing is irrational

Olala, how many times I heard that my thoughts and compulsions were totally irrational. And how many times I had to tell people that I knew it was.
But to be honest, I really do not mind when people tell me that the things I am doing and the thoughts I am having are irrational: for some reason, it calms me down and it gives me reassurance.
However, on the other hand, I do have to tell you that most people with OCD are perfectly aware of the fact that their obsessions and compulsions are not rational. But it doesn’t mean they can stop having them. Sounds pretty paradoxical, doesn’t it? I know, but that’s OCD!

To be continued

As you know, there’s one thing that I enjoy more than writing about my experiences and sharing my stories with you: reading yours!

Have you ever heard any misconception about OCD that you think is worth sharing? If yes, please leave a comment!



18 thoughts on “5 common misconceptions about OCD

  1. There aren’t many (if any) media representations of people suffering ODC that don’t rely solely on cleanliness and order. It’s so pervasive that even highly intelligent people don’t know that there are other manifestations. I’ve had people doubt my OCD diagnosis because I’m a slob. The good thing about the OCD misunderstanding is people never seem to be making fun of it (much). I try to provide helpful advice when I hear someone misspeak about it. So far, it hasn’t turned into an argument.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s right. I have pretty much the same experience – I have not seen any TV shows where OCD was not portrayed as a kind of cleaning obsession. YouTube is slightly better because there are a few videos that present OCD in a much more accurate way.
      Same here! Me too I am a slob and that’s why I never used to think I’d have OCD….
      Yes, to be honest I have not really had negative experiences with people – like I’ve talked to people who could not really understand what OCD is like – cause obviously for someone who does not have it, It is pretty difficult to imagine how one can be obsessed with a thought that one knows is completely irrational, but fortunately, so far I haven’t met anyone who made fun of it.
      The worst reaction I’ve got so far was that one of my friends thought I was joking. Like I was telling her about my intrusive thoughts and she’d think I’d made them up…but obviously when I told her that it’d been serious, she’d not make fun of it. (And I obviously did not get upset because I’m the type of person who loves making jokes and she had never heard about OCD before I told her so…It was not her fault)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I struggle with ocd and I have since I was a kid. Everyone is pretty accepting and I’ve gotten better over time. My boyfriend uses it in our fights to express how crazy I am and when I eventually can’t take the dirt in the house and start cleaning which he calls angry cleaning…it’s just another thing that makes us feel crazy😞

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am sorry to hear that 😦 OCD is a real terror but I am glad to hear that you’ve gotten better over time – me too I feel much better nowadays, that’s one of the reasons why I am able to write about it like..few years back I do not think I’d have been able to write about my OCD…..
      And I can totally relate – I do not have a cleaning obsession myself but I have other compulsions and it’s terrible when you know it’s something completely irrational but you just can not stop acting on them.

      Liked by 1 person

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