by Monnica Williams

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a serious condition that afflicts approximately 2% of the population. Obsessions are intrusive thoughts, impulses, or images that cause distress and anxiety. Compulsions are behaviors intended to decrease the distress and anxiety caused by the obsessions, although relief is only temporary. Obsessions return, resulting in more compulsions as the OCD cycle repeats itself.

Obsessions and compulsions come in many different forms therefore each individual’s OCD may be different. It is possible for two people with OCD to have no overlapping symptoms at all. Because of the wide variety of symptoms, many studies have been conducted to classify OCD into discrete subtypes or symptom dimensions. These include contamination/cleaning, doubt about harming/checking, unacceptable/taboo thoughts, symmetry/arranging, and hoarding symptoms.

Much research has been conducted on doubt /checking and contamination/cleaning dimensions, but one area that has seen less attention is in the area of sexual obsessions — a large part of the unacceptable/taboo thoughts dimension. Sexual obsessions can take many different forms. For example, sexual obsessions may include fears of being attracted to children, fears of engaging in inappropriate sexual activity, or intrusive sexual images. Unwanted sexual thoughts are common, and most people are able to dismiss an occasional bothersome thought. However, people with OCD cannot rid themselves of unwanted thoughts, and when the content is sexual in nature, the obsessions can be especially upsetting. Over ten percent of patients seeking treatment for OCD have some type of sexual obsession as their main concern.

About Sexual Orientation Obsessions

Sexual orientation obsessions in OCD (SO-OCD) are a specific type of sexual obsession. These symptoms continue to cause a great deal of concern and confusion among OCD sufferers and the professional community alike. SO-OCD is sometimes called HOCD — a name coined by the online community for “homosexual OCD.” So perplexing is SO-OCD, that many OCD online forums forbid its discussion. People with SO-OCD typically feel ashamed of the thoughts, and encountering non-acceptance in forums of fellow OCD suffers makes those with SO-OCD feel even more alienated. Continue Reading →

By Janet Singer

 

When discussing the causes of obsessive-compulsive disorder, the general consensus is that a combination of genetic and environmental factors likely leads to its development. There’s talk of genetic predisposition, triggering events and childhood trauma.

Oh, how that last one makes me cringe, and regardless of whether it’s my imagination, I’ve often felt I was being judged as a parent. The stigma I have dealt with personally has more to do with “What kind of parent are you?” than “Your child has a mental illness.”

So, of course, it makes me think. What kind of parent am I? Did I, or my husband, traumatize our son Dan and contribute to the development of his OCD? Well, I really don’t know. I’m certain that Dan grew up in a safe and loving home. But we’re not perfect. Was I less than patient when “forcing” toilet training on him as his fourth birthday fast approached? Yes. Should I have paid more attention to him when we were focused on dealing with his sister’s serious illness? Probably. Continue Reading →

By Janet Singer

 

We hear a lot about the concept of mindfulness these days. Simply put, mindfulness is the act of focusing on the present moment in a nonjudgmental way. It involves noticing and accepting what is.

If you or a loved one suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder, I’m wondering if you have the same thoughts about this definition of mindfulness as I do. To me, it seems as if it is the exact opposite of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Focusing on the present moment? Those with OCD rarely do that. Instead, they either find themselves immersed in the world of “what ifs,” worrying about everything that might go wrong, or agonizing over things they think might have already gone wrong. Lots of thinking about the future and the past — not so much about the present. Continue Reading →