The Science of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - Deepstash
The Science of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)


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The Science of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

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OCD (Obsesive Compulsive Disorder) vs OCPD (Obsesive Compulsive Personality)

OCD is an unhealthy mania for doing certain things. Like washing 50 in a row, counting in their head, checking the lock 20 times etc ....

If the obsessions are like itches, in OCPD they go away with scratching, and they intensify in OCD. Having such a personality can have benefits, with the itches acting as rewards for progress, but a disorder is debilitating. 

As high as 4% of the world population suffers from OCD. It rank the 7th the most debilitating disease, because of the shame associated with the obsession and the sheer amount of wasted time.


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  • Repetition: "when you check the lock 30 times before leaving the house" Endless loops of the same action.
  • Counting: "when you have do to something 5 times in a row" It could be an action or a mental counting. 
  • Order: "spend days perfecting the perfect email" or "ordering the dolls in the exact way" It manifests as incompleteness, symmetry or disgust (thinking something is contaminated)


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Anxiety - the common thread

Anxiety is a state of fear or alertness without the clear & present danger. It's what binds obsessions and compulsions. 

A person suffering from OCD is aware his belief is irrational. But it feels like the right intuition. "I know nothing bad will happen if I turn right but it feels like something bad will if don't." 


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Exposure Therapy

The only form of proven therapy for OCD. It is a cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), a talking therapy, however unlike counselling, it is much more structured and tailored around the individuals ‘here and now’ obsessive behaviour.

The goal is to get the patient face his/her fears caused. Unlike other treatments where the focus is calm, safety and so on, this therapy is about creating and facing the uncomfortable states.

CBT is done by professionals, takes a long time.


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Most of them don't seem to have any significant impact. There is research looking into:

  • Psychedelics. The idea is that serotonin would improve the obsessions. So far, the data showed little benefit.
  • Ketamine. Another drug used for trauma showed little benefit here.
  • Cannabis: it can relieve anxiety temporarily, but showed little OCD specific relief. Since it also increases focus it may do more harm than good. 


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Life-long learner. Passionate about leadership, entrepreneurship, philosophy, Buddhism & SF. Founder @deepstash.


A deep look into a very common mental problem