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ilana's avatar

Why is OCD so common amongst humans and even animals?

Asked by ilana (1072 points ) April 29th, 2011

It’s said that up to 1 in 50 people have it, but I would say it is much higher, maybe 1 in 20. Why have humans evolved to have so many mental difficulties like this? Even animals seem to suffer from it (excessive licking in cats, grooming etc.) My sister, me and my mother all suffer from it amongst many other problems. I get angry because I don’t understand why.

What is the most simplest organism or form of life that displays these symptoms? And why is the need for perfection or “equalness” the centre of this disorder? How does evolution account for this? I feel like there’s so much wrong with me physically and mentally that I’m not meant to be alive, like I’m an anomaly in nature, not fit for life. Sorry I’m getting off topic. Wow, I’m so fucked up :( Counselling, advice and medication do nothing btw.

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7 Answers

Dutchess_III's avatar

Do you have a link to OCD in animals?

Humans tend toward more mental aberrations than animals because of the complexities of our brains.

Seelix's avatar

My male cat shows what could be considered OCD behaviour – he licks his nipples until they bleed, and has licked little bald spots on his belly and arms.
My sister’s cat licked her belly completely bald, as did my parents’ cat. It’s not all that uncommon, at least in my experience.

Sorry I can’t offer you any advice, @ilana, I just wanted to add my two cents’ worth regarding animals.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I am diagnosed with OCD and my cat also has OC tendencies, including eating human hair. So it definitely does happen.

I think that OCD is just normal behavior gone awry. I can’t count how many people that I know that have little quirks or habits that if they were permitted to get out of control could mimic OCD. Also, OCD is one of the mental disorders that is known to have a genetic link, there is a proven connection in heredity. That may play a part, as well.

marinelife's avatar

OCD has a genetic component. I think that your one in 20 number is way too high though.

As for therapy, I know people with OCD that it has worked very well for. Make sure that you are working with a therapist that specializes in these issues.

Ladymia69's avatar

I think it is definitely a response to the world and time we are living in now. For instance, I cannot really see people having OCD in Neolithic times. Maybe it is a glitch in the adaptation and evolution of the neocortex. I, personally, think ADD and ADHD are evolutionary disorders, and also just a result of the hyper-information age.

Don’t feel you are an anomaly…you are a special, necessary part of evolution, and you are constantly evolving even in yourself! You won’t be the same way your whole life. You will constantly be changing. Deal with it the best way you can, and own it.

answerjill's avatar

the gold standard for OCD therapy these days is a form of cognitive behavior therapy called ERP (Exposure Response Prevention). Regular “talk therapy” is not enough for treating OCD.

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