He starts going out of the apartment, but he is unable to step out. He paces back and forth in the room panicked with the thought of going outside. He finally uses a tissue to turn the knob and steps out. He goes to the elevator and unable to step into it he lets everyone go before him. He is absolutely terrified of the heights and elevator. This is the opening scene in the movie "What About Bob?". In real life there are plenty of Bobs in the world and many more Bobbies too. Many who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) seeks help one way or the other for their condition. And it is a serious condition that needs serious medical attention.
OCD is a condition in which people do things and think things repeatedly to a point of exhaustion. They cannot control their actions or thought processes but are aware of their problem. People who have OCD develop it from childhood and come to a full-blown stage of it by the time they become adults. Most of us suffer from some kind of obsessive behavior. We are unaware of most actions that others notice in us. Some of us have an obsession to clean the house to make it spic and span. Some take pride in washing dishes to the point where they can see their faces in the reflection. For some people cleaning their cars and showing off to others gives great pleasure. Habits form from childhood for everyone.
There are habits. There are obsessions. And then there are compulsions. Habits include brushing your teeth in the morning, flossing your teeth, and using Listerine. They include having a cup of coffee early in the morning, eating lunch exactly at 12, reading a newspaper from page one to the last page and watching a certain television serial at night while having supper sitting in the sofa. These are habits.
Obsessions are fears of forgetting to brush your teeth, hating yourself for not using mouthwash or making sure that floss goes through every space between the teeth. They are fearing to forget setting the alarm, worrying about things that might go wrong, or being disgusted at the smell of your own armpits and getting irritated with certain sounds or words or actions. People with obsessive behaviors want to be in control of everything and everyone they are associated with. They are afraid their families might go out of their control. They are insecure about their relationships so they are constantly vigilant over the loved ones. They need constant reassurance of what they are doing. They try to have a tight control over the people they love and if something doesn't turn out the way they want they tend to become violent or hurt others in the process.
Compulsive behavior is the last stage of OCD. Washing hands over and over, brushing teeth five or six times in a row, wiping door knobs or flushing toilets again and again are examples of compulsions. So is checking on the alarm clock 10 times before going to bed, or ordering and arranging things in the house or work places. People with OCD constantly are looking for reassurances and approvals and yet, they do what they want to do compulsively and adamantly. They often do not think about what they are saying to others or doing. They become arrogant toward others and tend to hurt others either verbally or physically if they are not met with their ideas or actions.
Lack of the chemical serotonin in the brain is the main cause of OCD. It causes anxiety, phobias, panic attacks and a strong inclination towards doing the same things again and again. Medications such as Clomipramine, Fluoxetine and Sertaline are among many that are used to treat OCD. These medications have side effects such as sexual dysfunction, nausea, dizziness, dry mouth,etc. Behavioral modification is something people with OCD need on a continual basis. In behavioral modification therapies patients are given instructions on how to control their urges from doing things repeatedly or saying things over and over again. They are given alternatives to approach like in "What About Bob" where Bob is told to take "baby steps". With the help of the loved ones and medical treatments people suffering from OCD could lead close to normal lives because OUR LIFE MATTERS.