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rebbel's avatar

Can it be that Obsessive Compulsion Disorder is monolingual?

Asked by rebbel (23527 points ) August 1st, 2011

Let me clarify.
A woman I (superficially) know has, what I believe and what others have told me, OCD.
One way she expresses this is that she orders other people that she meets in the street to say certain words or sentences (like: “Say shoe, say shoe”).
However, she only orders her fellow Greeks to do this, she doesn’t so to tourists.
In the tourist season it can easy be 50/50 (Greeks vs tourists) on the streets.
So, is OCD monolingual /mono-nationality?
Is she faking it? I can’t imagine she does, but who knows?

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7 Answers

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Is she bilingual?
Technically in order to be OCD she has to have anxiety surrounding the compulsion. In other words, she fears something bad will happen if that person does not say ‘shoe.’ That is a relatively unique compulsion, so it may not be that it is monolingual, but rather that the specific word, which happens to be in Greek is significant to her. Compulsions associated with OCD are not rational. Things like tapping and counting are extremely typical, but some OCD sufferers may never experience that at all. Some things can be extremely specific, for example I once saw a guy that had to do a hand ritual whenever he saw an El Camino. So, if it can be narrowed down to one specific car, why not one specific word?

rebbel's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf Thank you for that clear and informative answer!
I must add that it is not just one word she orders, there are several, words and sentences.
Weird.
And a pity for her, I believe.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Well, multiple compulsions are common, as well. Usually in the same vein.. as with having people repeat words.
For example, a person may start by turning a light switch off and on. Then they may graduate to tapping that light switch.Then they start tapping their faucet. Then the stove. Then each shoe. Etc, etc. You see how it goes. All out of fear that if they don’t tap just right, a meteor will crash into the earth and kill everyone.
It doesn’t rationally make sense, and that is because it is irrational behavior, but her connection may be to the specific words in Greek.

rebbel's avatar

Again, thank you @ANef_is_Enuf, now that I read your answer I see how it can make sense.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Glad I could help.

Jeruba's avatar

I don’t think it’s possible to generalize about OCD from this single instance. I’m not a mental health professional, but from what I’ve read and observed, OCD is a very complex disorder with many manifestations. A person who is compulsively neat and a person who is a compulsive hoarder may both have OCD. This woman’s fixation doesn’t necessarily predict anything about someone else; I believe it’s the pattern of behavior coupled with emotional state and not the particular aberration that is the commonality.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

While I fully agree with what has been said above, I also have to add that Greek people generally tend to be very superstitious (especially the older folk). I know for certain that they fear illness, death or anything bad coming their way, especially if they are close to people who have faced bad luck in life or unfortunate events. It could very well be her way of ” pushing away” any form of negativity or anything she fears may rub off on her(which is going back to OCD in a way). What I am trying to say, is that it could stem from superstition which is a BIG thing in Greece. I know people who will ask you to say things just to make sure that what we had been talking about won’t happen to them.

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