Essay: Abnormal Behavior

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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Psychological Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by recurrent obsessions and/or compulsions. Obsessions may manifest as recurrent thoughts, ideas, images, impulses, fears, or doubts. Compulsions also manifest in a variety of ways. Patients may feel compelled to touch, to count, to check, to have everything symmetrically arranged, or to repeatedly wash their hands. Attempts to resist the compulsion are met with increasing anxiety, which is relieved as soon as the patient gives in to the compulsion.

According to Steven Taylor, et. al. (2010) research indicates that three types of dysfunctional beliefs contribute to the development and maintenance of obsessive-compulsive symptoms. These beliefs are described as inflated personal responsibility and the overestimation of threat, perfectionism and the intolerance of uncertainty, and over importance of one's thoughts and the need to control these thoughts.

OCD has many negative effects on the quality of one's life. Storch, Abramowitz and Keely (2009) report previous studies of individuals with OCD show patients with this condition are more likely to be unemployed, be of lower socio-economic status, have disrupted social and marital relationships, and make more use of health care than those without OCD. Furthermore, relative to individuals with other anxiety disorders, those with OCD are hospitalized more frequently, suggesting greater impairment. Research suggests that the amount of time spent performing compulsive rituals and the associated depressive symptoms contribute to this functional disability. In another study Cassin, Richter, Zhang, and Rector (2009) report that recent efforts to discern whether certain features of OCD are more detrimental in terms of quality of life have found the severity of obsessions to be more predictive of poor quality of life than the severity of compulsions. However, even more predictive than the severity of OCD symptoms has been the finding that secondary depression symptoms are the greatest predictor of poor quality of life in patients with primary OCD.

One common misunderstanding concerning the origins of OCD is that it stems from a neglectful or unbalanced upbringing. Research has provided clear evidence that the brain of someone with OCD does function differently than that of a person without OCD. OCD is triggered by a biochemical problem in the brain. These findings have done much to alleviate a great deal of shame and guilt some parents felt for their child's suffering.

Part II -- Motion Picture Analysis

Director James L. Brooks depicts the characteristics of an individual suffering from OCD in the movie as Good as it Gets (1997). The character of Melvin Udall, portrayed by Jack Nicholson, exhibits both obsessive and compulsive behaviors throughout the film. One of the criteria for a diagnosis of OCD according to the DSM IV-TR is repetitive behaviors or mental acts that the person feels driven to perform in response to an obsession, or according to rules that must be applied rigidly. Udall's rituals include turning the light switch off and on five times, and not letting his feet step on cracks. He also indicated that he needed to go to the restaurant at the same time each day, (he commented that he would be late for the restaurant when at Dr. Green's office) sit in the same table, and order the virtually the same food. Furthermore he has an obsession with cleanliness as evidenced by a medicine cabinet full of soap and a distaste to touch or be touched. Even though he becomes fond of the dog, Verdell, he needs to use gloves in… [END OF PREVIEW]

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