General Question

zen_'s avatar

Is everyone OCD?

Asked by zen_ (6235 points ) September 16th, 2010

Someone mentioned to me that everyone is OCD, just of varying degrees.

Is this the common convention?

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43 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I think people who have been diagnosed with OCD would truly disagree. As do I.

muppetish's avatar

I’m not a disorder, so no ;)

I think it is relatively normal to have compulsions and is not terribly rare to (to some degree) obsess over certain compulsions, but I do not think everyone has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I’m close friends with a number of people living with OCD. They don’t take medication or seek therapy and tend to have a love-hate relationship with their habits. And I’m quite protective of them.

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

I think I have it a little. I don’t think everyone does though. There are some people who don’t care about hygiene at all. But OCD isn’t limited to just hygiene either. I don’t think everyone has a mental disorder.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Everyone has every most disorders, just to varying degrees. Most degrees are thought of as a continuum, so everyone has features – it’s when those features get to x level that you need to get help, and y level that it’s diagnostically termed a “disorder” for insurance.

Aster's avatar

Not the genuine article. People like to throw these labels around but to say there are degrees of it is an interesting hypothesis. For instance, some people mistakenly say if a person is overweight and is found snacking frequently they can say, “he has OCD.”
It is most often associated with excessive hand washing.

zen_'s avatar

Let me explain further: the person who mentioned it is a first year Psych major. I didn’t have time to discuss it – but she was adamant about everyone being OCD. I told her it didn’t sound right to me – but she was certain (and I guess was told this – or read it somewhere). Is there some school of thought behind this?

NaturallyMe's avatar

Weird, i thought of this exact same question yesterday but forgot to post it. I was wondering the same thing, if many of us have it, but at varying degrees.
I think many have it a teeny tiny bit in respect of certain aspects of their lives, but not to such an extent that it can be called a mental illness.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

As someone diagnosed with an obsessive compulsive spectrum disorder, I’m going to have to say no.
We are all creatures of habit, but OCD takes over your life, you have little or no control over the urges to do things that are almost always self destructive.
I’ve also heard that we are all bipolar to some degree. I disagree with both statements. Most of these disorders are pretty normal human activities taken to an extreme.. which is what makes them a disorder. That doesn’t mean that everyone has manic depression, or ADHD, or OCD, it means that most of these issues are normal human functions gone awry.

DeanV's avatar

Obsessive Compulsive, yes. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, absolutely not.

muppetish's avatar

@zen_ There is probably a school of thought that maintains this belief (as there is a school of thought that believes everyone is autistic to some degree), but I cannot help but personally feel that ascribing the actual Disorder to every person is a detrimental outlook. I think your hesitation to agree with her is valid.

@Aesthetic_Mess I just want to note that OCD is not intrinsically linked to mysophobia. The friends I have are sensitive to patterns. One in particular, needs everything to be even. One blue chair, one yellow chair, one blue chair, one yellow chair; the textbooks need to be in the center of the desk; the books on the shelf need to be organized by size; she needs to take at least two of everything; etc. She does not frequently wash her hands and could care less about germs (though she does not like to be touched by people – I’m not sure whether this is linked in any way to her condition.)

Pandora's avatar

I think that most people have a slight degree of it, only we call it pet peeves. Like I have several pet peeves.
Pictures that aren’t hung straight bug me. I have to straighten them out. (but not in others homes, unless they happen to leave me in the room alone.)
Clocks with the wrong time on it. I have to fix it. (only my clocks, but I will point it out to others)
Lint or a hair on someones clothing. (only on those I know)
If I let these things slide, I become obsessed with it till I fix it. I become uneasy till it is fixed.
However my obsession is only within the people I know or in enviroments I am familiar with.

Ivan's avatar

I think a lot of people misunderstand what OCD actually is.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Just for the record, hand washing is only one of hundreds of potential compulsions. That is just one of the more frequently discussed symptoms. I work in the medical field, obviously germ phobia is not a big issue for me.

Aster's avatar

First year psych students, of which I was one, are very enthusiastic about their major and their heads are swimming with dreams of being a Psychologist someday. You take very few psych courses the first year but it’s kind of standard for them to make statements like that. Even if it’s outrageous.
If they hear a fellow student say something like that they latch onto it as “truth.”
Along the same vein, it seems to me that whenever I meet a woman who is worn out she says she has fibromyalgia. They like a title for their “illness” when they simply may be watching too much Dr Oz. lol

zen_'s avatar

^ I think you’re right.

SundayKittens's avatar

Everyone has quirks, which is kind of an OCD thing.
The difference is when it affects your life.

I was having this EXACT convo yesterday!!

Edit: What @dvherhey said!

iamthemob's avatar

What we all have in common is generalized anxiety which is counter-productive. For people suffering from OCD, these anxieties are associated with some very specific “disastrous thoughts” most of the time (the obsession) and the only way to prevent these things is to perform a certain task or act (the compulsion). But OCD is very specific, often severe and life-interrupting, and quite curable in a lot of cases. The generalization you’ve witnessed is pretty much a fallacious “All people are anxious at times. All OCD sufferers succumb to anxious impulses. Therefore, all people suffer from OCD” sort of argument.

aprilsimnel's avatar

No, I don’t think so. There’s a definite set of behaviours and thought patterns correlating with an OCD diagnosis, and I don’t exhibit those at all.

free_fallin's avatar

Definitely not. I find it offensive for someone to label everyone as such. People are not understanding the definition of a disorder. People who have disorders are seriously affected by it. It completely disrupts their life and they are unable to function normally. People throw around labels left and right with no basis behind them, no proof to validate their opinions. We all have quirks, but that’s it.

SundayKittens's avatar

@free_fallin I agree…it’s kind of in pop culture lexicon to call yourself “OCD” or to have an “ADD” moment, and I think that kind of belittles the people who really suffer.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@zen_ and @NaturallyMe Oddly, the same question entered my mind today as I went out to run errands and suddenly wanted to turn around and double-check that the garage door was closed and the front door locked.

A co-worker often teasingly said that I had OCD because I would head to a meeting room early to clean up, including wiping down the tables and chair arms. It ticked me off. Not because of the label, but because he probably has no idea what the disorder truly is about.

The personal actions I mention are founded in the need to feel secure from robbery (and an effective work environment for the latter). Some of our behaviors become so routine that we do them without really thinking about it. How many times have I wondered if I turned the clothes iron off after leaving the house? Many. This is why I invested in an automatic shut-off model. Problem solved.

It’s a shame that a psychology student would make such a statement. Maybe it can be chalked up to youth and/or a convincing professor. I’ve been a victim in such circumstances myself., We are all privy to watching others do the same thing…even here on Fluther. It is through questions and answers, such as this one, that we continue to learn more and expand a currently limited thought-process.

wundayatta's avatar

If everyone was obsessive-compulsive, then how could it be a disorder? It’s just the way people are.

BoBo1946's avatar

Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear, or worry, by repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing anxiety, or by a combination of such thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions). Symptoms may include repetitive hand-washing; extensive hoarding; preoccupation with sexual or aggressive impulses, or with particular religious beliefs; aversion to odd numbers; and nervous habits, such as opening a door and closing it a certain number of times before one enters or leaves a room. These symptoms can be alienating and time-consuming, and often cause severe emotional and financial distress. The acts of those who have OCD may appear paranoid and come across to others as psychotic. However, OCD sufferers generally recognize their thoughts and subsequent actions as irrational, and they may become further distressed by this realization.

Based on that, to some degree, my answer would be yes.

The nature and type of Purely Obsessional OCD varies greatly, but the central theme for all sufferers is the emergence of a disturbing intrusive thought or question, an unwanted/inappropriate mental image, or a frightening impulse that causes the person extreme anxiety because it is antithetical to closely-held religious beliefs, morals, or societal mores.[5] While those without Purely Obsessional OCD might instinctively respond to bizarre intrusive thoughts or impulses as insignificant and part of a normal variance in the human mind, someone with Purely Obsessional OCD will respond with profound alarm followed by an intense attempt to neutralize the thought or avoid having the thought again. The person begins to ask themselves constantly “Am I really capable of something like that?” or “Could that really happen?” or “Is that really me?” (even though they usually realize that their fear is irrational, which causes them further distress)[6] and puts tremendous effort into escaping or resolving the unwanted thought. They then end up in a vicious cycle of mentally searching for reassurance and trying to get a definitive answer.

Based on this, no.

Wiki

LuckyGuy's avatar

No! Just the people who have to come here every day.
Now excuse me, I have to get back to all those questions for me.

weeveeship's avatar

Not everyone. I know this one guy who could not care less about cleanliness. He would wear the same shirt for several days and not shower. It got really stinky after a while.

Nullo's avatar

I heard once that there was OCD, and behaviors that sorta mimicked it. I can certainly see the latter as an outgrowth of beneficial behavioral traits.

perspicacious's avatar

No. This is another example of a diagnosis of which the general public has become aware. Probably from watching Oprah and Dr. Phil. Sort of like bi-polar and depression. So now everyone thinks they have this disorder or know someone who does. It’s the whole “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” Whoever first made that statement was oh so right!!

Shauna's avatar

I think not EVERYONE has it , but i do , like befor i go to school i brush my teeth and i have to tap the toothbruh almost 55 times ! i DONT like having it at all .!

downtide's avatar

No. If there is an opposite to OCD I have it. I obsess about absolutely nothing.

MacBean's avatar

Saying everyone is OCD is like saying everyone has a touch of depression. No, not everyone has a touch of depression. Everyone has bad days and everyone is sad once in a while. Not the same thing. Likewise, everyone has some things they’re kind of particular about. Not everyone is actually OCD.

answerjill's avatar

No, OCD is a real disorder that has the potential to take over the sufferer’s life, unless s/he can get some help to keep it under control and has the strength to cope with it. Medication and cognitive therapy, often of the painful “exposure-response prevention” type is prescribed. Also, as others have mentioned, OCD can take many forms. For some, the compulsions are mainly mental rituals, for example.

zen_'s avatar

@Shauna Welcome to fluther. I have flagged your post I think not EVERYONE has it , but i do , like befor i go to school i brush my teeth and i have to tap the toothbruh almost 55 times ! i DONT like having it at all .! because it really doesn’t fit the standards of writing here. Whether it gets removed or not, know that you are most welcome here, but if you look at the posts before you, and read some more questions and the guidelines, you’ll see that we really appreciate (at least basic) grammar and writing skills, and a little more effort. Thanks.

Flavio's avatar

No OCD is a very specific, debilitating disorder. Anal retentiveness or perfectionism is not the same as OCD.

Nially_Bob's avatar

If you feel you have to tie your shoelaces in a particular manner (a compulsion) you do not have OCD and referring to something as “being OCD” makes equal grammatical sense to stating that “I’m rather CNN today”. On the other hand, should you feel you have to tie your shoelaces in a particular manner for fear that if you do not do so precisely as is required by the convention you have developed then unspeakable things may happen to you and your family and this in-turn causes your life to debilitate significantly then yes, you likely have a severe case of OCD.
Everybody has compulsions because we thrive on routine, it’s healthy to have some staples in ones life, but these compulsions no matter how strongly you may wish to perform them or how many there are are unlikely to be obsessive compulsions. You may feel a compulsion to wash your hands after a snack, but if you didn’t do so you’d likely have forgotten about it 5 to 20 minutes later no? That’s not an obsession.
Mistaking the meaning of and accordingly misusing the term OCD is a pet-hate of mine so please forgive me if I seem rather biting in my statements as I mean no offense.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Nially_Bob But saying “I’m rather OC today” is probably just hyperbole.

Nially_Bob's avatar

@papayalily True, I needlessly emphasised that point for which I apologise.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Nially_Bob No, it actually confused the crap out of me the first time I heard the expression because of the “D”. I kept asking how you could be a disorder…

Nially_Bob's avatar

@papayalily I’d assume referring to yourself as a disorder is only further hyperbole. It can tend to be taken to Godzilla universe engulfing extremes.

perspicacious's avatar

@Shauna That doesn’t qualify you for the diagnosis.

iamthemob's avatar

@perspicacious You’re not qualified to make the diagnosis. ;-)

Flavio's avatar

@perspicacious @Shauna
but it does not exclude her from the diagnosis either. The other thing for this forum to consider is that while many people with OCD have clear cut obsessions and compulsions that are ego-dystonic, it’s not always clear cut and many people have more confusing symptom clusters that may be confounded by comorbidities or personality styles. Sometimes it takes many visits to a psychiatrist before a final diagnosis can be reached. I have a lot of patients in this category, I give them place-holder diagnoses while I work out what’s going on. mood disorder, not otherwise specified (NOS); anxiety disorder NOS; psychosis NOS; depressive disorder NOS, etc. Or I write that I am “ruling out” certain diagnoses, for example, anxiety disorder NOS, rule out OCD if I think they may have OCD but I am not sure. just to throw a wrench in the conversation.

Annamal's avatar

I suspect that, like many conditions, OCD may be a spectrum and that virtually everyone has some OCD traits. However, this does not mean that everybody has ‘full blown’ OCD.

At some stages in my life, I have coped quite well with the disorder and have seemed no worse than many other people with moderate forms of the condition. However, the condition is always with me (to a more or less degree) and sometimes it is so severe that it basically takes over my life. I suffered a breakdown a few years ago and OCD played a major role in this. I’m still unable to return to work and, while things have generally improved, I feel that my illness will always prevent me from leading the kind of life I might otherwise have experienced.

I worry that people won’t be able to recognise the severity of my OCD because there is a popular misconception that OCD is only about hygiene- related obsessions and compulsions. However, for me, this is only a secondary manifestation of the condition (I am mostly affected by ‘harm OCD’.)

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