Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a disorder of the brain and behavior. OCD causes severe anxiety in those affected. OCD involves both obsessions and compulsions that take a lot of time and get in the way of important activities the person values.
Dr. Michael Jenike, M.D., of Harvard University, has stated that of all mental illnesses, OCD is the most painful for the patient and the family. They deal with the pain 24/7.
One face of OCD is Body Dysmorphic Disorder, BDD. The person suffering with this problem is preoccupied with an imagined defect in appearance; and if indeed, a slight defect is present the individual’s preoccupation with that defect is markedly excessive. A major symptom of BDD is a tormenting doubt. The underlying question is related to uncertainty about one’s body part, or appearance. It is important to mention that symptoms can shift from concern about one aspect of appearance to another at any time. Some people with this disease cannot even look at themselves in the mirror because they think they are so ugly.
More men are treated for BDD than women. However, more research is necessary to see the exact distribution. The onset is not exclusive to a particular age, though symptoms often emerge during teen-age years.
Another area is contamination. Some women feel their babies are contaminated because of the dirty diapers; and as a result, can’t love or touch their own child.
It also affects children and the stories are heart breaking. The following are just a couple of stories.
“The day I found out that Dan had been eating his lunch in a bathroom stall rather than face the kids in the cafeteria, I died a thousand deaths. I knew he was shy, but I didn’t realize how unbearable life and become for him. This can’t be the story of his life. We’ve got to help him, but I don’t know where to begin.”
“Kelly is an extremely serious kid; it’s painful to see how life is such a burden to her. She worries about everything from catching the bus to catching a cold, getting good grades, not hurting anyone’s feelings, not making a mistake. She never lets up; she’s always on alert. She has a full-time job of ‘just making sure’.”
The OCD patient suffers in silence and as of today there are only a few hundred doctors that know how to treat this disease. It’s a totally ill logical disease that we try to treat normally and it can’t be done. Research is showing that there is a genetic link and it could be triggered by strep-throat. Dr. Thomas Insel, director of NIMH, is responsible for the Genetics Collaborative, but they need research money and it is very hard to come by.
Jim always wanted to make a difference. He, personally, didn’t get the chance, but as a family we are committed to making that difference for him and for all the others who suffer endless pain in silence.