OCD FYI – WIF Uncontrollable Handbook

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Interesting Facts

and

Misconceptions

About OCD

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is known in popular media as that problem that people who are really, really picky and phobic about cleanliness have. Unfortunately, this is not even close to what OCD actually is. Most people have huge misconceptions about OCD, helped by shows like Monk, which have made them think that being perfectionist, anal-retentive, or overly habitual is what being OCD is all about.

 There are multiple types of OCD, and it is certainly much more complicated and difficult to deal with than TV makes it look. For those who suffer from OCD, watching popular media depicting it is basically just one extended cringe fest. Below we will go over some of the lesser known facts about OCD and bust some of the misconceptions.

10. Adrian Monk From The Hit TV Show Is Not A Good Example Of OCD

The hit TV show Monk is famous for its depiction of a detective with severe OCD. However, the truth is that OCD is probably one of the few disorders that the character actually doesn’t have. Monk is depicted as having phobias of almost everything, which isn’t really what OCD is about at all. And he is also depicted as being very cleanly and overly picky about little things, but that isn’t really OCD either. He is a grab bag of so many different symptoms with so little congruity that it is amazing anyone can claim he has any one particular disorder at all.For many who suffer from OCD, this depiction is hurtful because it makes light of the disease without properly explaining how it works at all. It is described as wacky and he is shown to be anal retentive and extremely hard to please and work with, but this is also not representative of OCD either. While Tony Shaloub is a great actor, and does his best to provide a sensitive performance, the show falls totally flat in terms of any kind of realism.

9. Many Sufferers Of OCD Suffer In Complete Silence

Many people like to think of OCD as a very public disease. Those with OCD will constantly perform little rituals that show how “crazy” and “wacky” they are to everyone around them. These rituals, like touching a doorknob many times, are often played for laughs in popular media – while the person with actual OCD feels great shame at what they are doing. While some who suffer from OCD do things like this, many of them actually don’t. It is often depicted like that because it is easy to show that on TV, but many who suffer from OCD suffer almost entirely in their own heads.

Much of OCD actually stems from persistent bad thoughts that keep occurring, often of a sexual or violent nature and involving friends or loved ones. Normal people would simply feel disgusted by the thought and move on, but those with OCD obsess over it and feel great shame. That means many with OCD will create mental rituals they go over to push the bad thoughts away. For this reason, many who have OCD are completely invisible in their suffering, totally dealing with it within their own heads.

8. Making Light Of OCD Makes It Harder For Sufferers To Get The Help They Need

The constant jokes about OCD may be funny to those who make them, but to those with OCD, it makes it harder to get the help they need, and it can also be very hurtful. People saying “I am so OCD” because they don’t like their vegetables to touch their mashed potatoes – those people are anal-retentive – and others who make light of it by making jokes about touching doorknobs or what have you, are making things much harder for those who truly suffer.

When you are an object of ridicule, especially if you are one who mostly suffers in your own head, then you are unlikely to come out to others as needing help – this is on top of the fact that there is already a stigma behind going to see mental health professionals. Those who joke about OCD should think twice about what they are doing. OCD is a disease marked almost entirely by great feelings of shame, and the mockery only makes those with it feel even more ashamed about what they do. At the very least, if someone is going to joke about OCD, they should get a better understanding first of what it actually is.

7. OCD Is Characterized By Persistent Unwanted Thoughts That Won’t Go Away

Like we mentioned earlier, OCD isn’t really about not wanting your peas to touch your chicken, or being really obsessed with making sure your shirt is tucked in perfectly and not a lock of hair is out of place. There is a disorder for this when it is taken to an extreme, but that is not Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is characterized by extremely disturbing thoughts that pop into people’s heads involving usually things of a sexual or violent nature and often involving friends and family.

While even normal people have weird thoughts like this pop into their heads now and again, the difference is that a normal person just moves on, knowing that they don’t associate with such things. However, someone with OCD feels guilty that they had the thought at all, and starts obsessing that there is something wrong with them because they had the thought. Trying not to think about something makes you think it all the harder, which makes the sufferer feel even more guilt on top of that previous guilt. Those with OCD will then do physical or mental rituals to distract themselves when the thought or thoughts try to intrude again, so they can avoid the guilty and horrible feelings. Some people will get caught up in their physical ticks to the point they hardly think about the thing they are trying to avoid thinking about anymore. Instead, they just feel a vague sense that something horrible will happen if they don’t keep the rituals up – that horrible thing generally being that the thoughts pop back up again. The best way for an OCD person to deal with this is to reassure themselves that they shouldn’t feel guilty, and not try so hard to forcibly push the thoughts away.

6. Being Incredibly Cleanly, Germaphobic Or Picky About Food Touching Is Not OCD

As we talked about earlier, being OCD is not the same thing as being really picky and cleanly. Those people are often called “anal-retentive”, but there is also a clinical term for people who take being super cleanly and neat and on the ball to the complete extreme. This disorder is called obsessive compulsive personality disorder, and is quite distinct from OCD. This disease, which is closer to one of the diseases that the character on Monk actually has, is characterized by someone who has to not have their food touching, always has to have perfectly pressed clothes, and combed hair, etc.

Oftentimes this person had a stricter upbringing, or had some event happen that shook their feeling of security. Those who have OCPD (obsessive compulsive personality disorder) are doing what they do to make the world continue to feel right, but their reasons tend to be much different. They aren’t really dealing with bad thoughts or specific feelings of doom if they don’t keep everything just so. Instead, they just have a really strict regime of keeping everything they way they wish, because in general, it gives them a feeling of safety and security. While both fall under anxiety disorders and both have obsession involved, that is as close as they actually get to each other. When many people say OCD, they really mean OCPD.

5. For Many People, OCD Takes On Religious Connotations

There is also a special form of OCD known as scrupulosity, which may or may not involve the trademark intrusive thoughts. Those with this issue deal with a special religious version of OCD. Essentially, they become so obsessed with following the rules of religion to the letter that it makes it very hard for them to properly live their daily lives. One sufferer spoke of how, when studying for her Bat Mitzvah, she was so worried about pork fumes that she was scrubbing her hands constantly red raw. She would say her prayers over if she had to and ignore people to make sure she said them just right.

This is something a lot of OCD sufferers who are religious deal with, and the sad thing is they are more likely to suffer alone because they are so afraid of how people will judge them if they tell them what they are dealing with. These people tend to be very afraid of making any religious mistake and being punished or being in disfavor with their God of choice. Unfortunately this can be a very tricky form of OCD to deal with, because the sufferer can even think that intrusive thoughts are actually being influenced by demons, making the whole thing even more complicated.

4. Those With OCD Are Often Suffering From A Lot Of Guilt About Their Unwanted Thoughts

The truth is that at its heart, OCD is almost entirely about guilt. Whether it is guilt at what you did that you fear a deity will punish you for, guilt about the thoughts you had, or guilt about something you did wrong, or any kind of guilt. Those with OCD have a short circuit in the brain wherein when they feel guilty about something, they will start obsessing over it constantly in order to make themselves feel better and try to reassure themselves. Unfortunately, because their reason they are seeking assurance is because of guilt, and the feeling is strong, they will invariably make themselves feel even guiltier.

Those with OCD will then go to their go to rituals when it all becomes too much, and the obsessing has started to make things worse. Now they will try to push away all thoughts about the thing that is bothering them, in an attempt to improve how they feel. Those with OCD will often also feel guilt at how poorly they manage their own symptoms, which only decreases their sense of self-worth even more. This is why it is so important that people understand what the disease is and don’t make light of it as much. It is already something that tends to wear down and batter those who suffer from it, so mocking them and making light of their suffering only makes it harder for them to cope.

3. People With OCD Are Hyper Aware Of Their Problems And Very Embarrassed By Them

Let’s be clear: while people with OCD are often a laughingstock, especially on TV, it is not funny to them at all. Those who suffer (like this author) are hyper aware of the things that they do. If it is currently a physical ritual, they try to hide the fact that they do it from others, because it is insanely embarrassing when others find out. If it is a mental ritual, it is much easier to hide, but they are still very, very aware that they are doing it, and feel shame even as they are performing their rituals in order to avoid more guilt.

So while it may be often depicted as someone who doesn’t really understand just how “crazy” they are, the truth is that many people who are mentally unhealthy, except for those with delusional disorders, are well aware of their mental problems and how crippling they are. In fact, they are probably much more aware of the issue and how it is affecting them than you, the casual observer, could ever be. The best way to deal with it is sensitivity, like any disorder, and if comedy is to be done, the comedian should at least take the time to properly understand what they are joking about so they can give it a proper treatment. If you want to help someone who you think has OCD, the best thing you can do is be someone they can talk to about anything – be their guilt free zone where you can get them talking and assure them that they don’t need to feel guilty all the time.

2. Persistent OCD Symptoms Can Lead To Depression And Other Mood Disorders

As you might imagine, having OCD can be very, very frustrating. Sufferers will go through bouts where they are doing better than other times, and sometimes worse. However, overall, it is a chronic problem that can be difficult to manage on an ongoing basis. You can be going well, and then something happens that triggers a thought from a horrible episode and you are doing terrible again. A life event happens that is extremely awful and you can find yourself relapsing when you had made a lot of progress. Constantly feeling guilty about horrible thoughts and trying to repress them is incredibly difficult to deal with on an ongoing basis and so many people who suffer from OCD end up with other mood disorders.

Roughly three out of four people with OCD end up with depression as well, because of how depressing it is to deal with the chronic issue of OCD. It is hard to feel good on an ongoing basis and feel good about yourself when you are constantly either feeling guilty or obsessing about thoughts or actions in an attempt to avoid feeling guilty, or guiltier. The worst part is, the rational part of the OCD sufferers brain knows that their feelings of guilt are completely irrational, but try as they might, they can’t just turn those thoughts off. In a way, the constant feelings of guilt are just as much an obsession as the rituals themselves.

1. People With OCD Can Get Better At Controlling The Problem But There Is No Cure

There are many ways to treat OCD, and to help those who suffer with it, but the truth is that there is no known cure. No one is sure if it has a genetic component or not, but there is some belief that it runs in families. Regardless of how it comes, once it is there, it is there to stay. Those with OCD will never completely cure their dilemma, and will have to deal with the issue to some degree or another for the rest of their lives.

However, this doesn’t mean everything is grim. While it may always be a problem lurking in the background, those with OCD, if they do the right things or seek the right treatment, can ameliorate the symptoms to some extent. Images may still pop into your head, but accepting and acknowledging that they are they, but there is no reason to feel guilty about them, and then practicing taking a breath and moving on, can help the sufferer deal better with their issue. Forcing yourself to break a ritual now and then, and then reminding yourself afterwards that nothing bad happened is another way you can help break yourself of the more debilitating symptoms.

Most of all, it is about practicing letting go instead of obsessing over things and allowing yourself to feel guilt if necessary, but then move on and force yourself to stop worrying about it. Nothing will cure someone with OCD, there is no magic bullet. But with many mental health disorders, with the right treatment, those with OCD can still at least live a relatively happy and normal life.


OCD FYI

– WIF Handbook

Hereditary Behavior – Blame it on Your Genes

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Traits That are Genetic

10. Laziness

lazy

Some people are just extremely lazy. They’d rather binge watch Netflix than get some work done. It’s extremely common for people to question why they have this innate sense of laziness that they can’t seem to shake. Well, lazy people rejoice, it’s not all your fault. Blame it on your genetics!

Researchers discovered laziness genes when they bred two groups of rats. They bred the most active rats and the least active rats. As the generation of rats grew, the rats with the active parents ran longer and longer while the rats with the less active parents didn’t run nearly as much. The researchers accounted for many factors including physical characteristics, muscle cells, levels of mitochondria, etc. But, they found that the biggest reason for their activity and inactivity was a set of around 36 genes that accounted for their motivation to exercise.

So basically, everyone who has said there’s no excuse for being lazy has been wrong.

9. How You Deal With Stress

stressed out

Stress has an effect on everyone at one point or another. Whether someone is going through a divorce, a long work week, or gender reassignment surgery, we all have stressful times. The way that stress affects people is largely influenced by their genetics.

Stress effects can be seen in the hippocampus region of the brain. When someone goes through a stressful event their hippocampus either increases or decreases. The size change happens depending on the number of risk genes someone harbors. The more risk genes, the more the hippocampus will decrease in volume, which will make that person have a negative reaction to that stressful event. If there are very little risk genes, then the stressful event could have a reverse effect and actually be very positive to the person.

This predisposition to the effects of stress has a major overall affect on someone’s ability to handle critical life moments that may induce stress, which makes the odds stacked against some people who have many risk genes. Damn you, genetics!

8. Your Willingness to Travel

travel

There are many people who enjoy travel, and there just as many who despise it. People who enjoy it may have a gene called DRD4-7R, or the “wanderlust gene.

People who have the gene have higher levels of restlessness and curiosity. They enjoy exploring new places and don’t like being stationary. The gene has been traced back to people with ancestors that have a history of traveling. Human life is said to have started in Africa, thus, populations who have traveled far from Africa have a higher chance of possessing DRD4-7R. Not only do people with the gene enjoy traveling more but they’re also more willing to take risks and explore new relationships, foods, and drugs. They welcome change and adventure.

Lastly, the gene is not particularly common, as it’s found in only about 20 percent of the population. Yet if you do the math, out of 7,000,000,000 people that would mean about 1,400,000,000 people in the world possess the gene.

7. Driving Skills

baddriver

Driving seems like a simple enough task. Don’t run in to people or other cars and you’re golden. Then why are there so many accidents? Well if you’ve been reading the list up to this point, you would know it’s because of genetics.

Researchers have found a certain gene variant that makes people worse at driving. People with the variant perform more than 30 percent worse ondriving tests, and 30 percent of Americans possess the gene. So, three out of every ten people on the road could potentially kill you due to their lack of driving skills. The reason people with the gene are much worse at driving is because an improper amount of BDNF, which is a protein in the brain, is given off. BDNF assists in retaining memory and is essential to the communication between brain cells. Thus, it’s much harder to get better at driving because it’s much harder to retain driving skills through practice.

If you think that we should get all the people with this gene off the road, we totally agree with you. But who knows, it could be you who has the gene, random internet reader. And you don’t want to be kicked off the road, even though it could potentially mean saving lives. You’re so selfish.

6. Susceptibility to Addiction

addiction

Addiction is one of the absolute worst things a human being can go through. Well, scientists have found a genetic influence when it comes to becoming addicted. Genes account for over 50 percent of a person’s susceptibility todrug addiction, and with drug use in America at an all-time high, addiction has become a huge problem.

Physicians would be able to treat addiction better if they understood genetics tests better, as only about five percent of physicians have confidence in their ability to understand the tests. So basically, good treatment is hard to find.

Furthermore, genetics have an influence on why someone will start using drugs. For example, with tobacco, 75 percent of a person’s tendency to start smoking is based on their genetics, while 60 percent of their likelihood to become addicted and 54 percent of their capability to quit is based on genetics. Thus, genetics account for a larger percent than environmental factors in the different characteristics of addiction.

5. Violence

violence

Violent people are the scourge of society. Well, along with the Kardashians, obviously. There’s no place for them, so we throw them in prison for their various wrongdoings (violent people, not Kardashians…though there’s still hope for the latter). As much as we want it to be completely their fault because of how relentless and annoying violent people can be, genetics is a very big thing to blame as well.

Researchers in Finland took a genetic analysis of about 900 criminals and have found that two genes are associated with making people violent. People with the genes were 13 times more likely to have a background of violence.

Still, Jari Tiihonen, who headed up the study, said it’s highly unlikely that people with these genes will start going off on killing sprees. Even if somebody possesses most of the genes, they’ll more than likely never commit a violent crime, but are just more likely to compared with the general population. Even an Italian court reduced a murderer’s sentence because it was discovered that the murderer had genes linked with violent behavior.

4. Exactly What You Should Eat

whattoeat

Forget everything you know about diets and dieting, because it’s all a lie. Well, not entirely a lie, but there is a better way to lose weight and become healthier: listen to the advice from your own personal genetics. Don’t start talking to yourself by asking your genetics what to eat. We’ve already tried, and been met with nothing but awkward silence. In retrospect, Denny’s wasn’t the best place to try this out for the first time. But if you could talk to your genetics, you’d get better advice than any ‘diet expert’ out there.

University of Toronto researchers found that personalized nutrition based on individual genetic makeup improves eating habits. When the researchers gave their test subjects advice based on their genetics, their diets had improved compared with the subjects who were given standard dietary advice. For example, the researchers found a gene linked to high blood pressure and salt intake in some subjects, who were then given advice about it. They saw much better improvement on their sodium intake compared to the subjects who were given standard advice on salt intake.

3. Taste in Music

musictaste

In a study of almost 4,000 twins, scientists noted that they’re all just as creepy as we thought. Oh, and it was found that our musical taste is partially basedon our genetics. For people under 50, genetic influence of music taste is about 55 percent. Thus, genes have a bigger influence on music taste compared to environmental factors before the age of 50. As people grow older though, environment has more of an influence. For people over 50, genetics only has about a 40 percent influence while environment accounts for the other 60 percent. Genes still have a big influence but with time that influence depletes.

The study also accounted for each individual genre of music and how much genes have an influence on liking a particular genre of music. For people under 50, genes had about a 56 percent influence on Jazz/blues/soul music, a 53 percent influence Pop/classical/rap/hip-hop music, a 53 percent influence on Rock/indie/heavy metal music, and genes had no influence on country/folk before the age of 50 but it had a 28 percent influence after people were above the age of 50. The genetic influence for the other genres for people over 50 were 43 percent on Pop/classical/rap/hip-hop, 42 percent on Jazz/blues/soul, and 34 percent on Rock/indie/heavy metal. Furthermore, our motivation to listen to music is less based on our genes, with genes having about a 25 percent influence.

Whew. With all of those percentages being thrown around, we half expected Han Solo to pop up and give us his feelings on being told the odds.

2. Selecting a Mate

attraction

There’s more to human attraction than meets the eye. When choosing a mate, it’s not just attractiveness or intelligence that influences the choice. It goes deeper than that. Specifically, something called a major histocompatibility complex (MHC). Our major histocompatibility complex comes from our genetics and has a subtle impact on who we are attracted to.

In short, we’re attracted to people with a different MHC than us. In a study of 90 married couples and 152 other random couples, it was found that the couples had very differing MHCs. If MHC genes had no influence they wouldn’t have found such differing MHCs in the study. The reason we’re attracted to people with differing genes can be found in our evolution: diversity between mates yields healthier children. Thus, we evolved to go after partners that are different from ourselves.

Also, the MHC helps stop inbreeding because we’re less attracted to people who we have similar genes to. So, genetics is the ultimate reason incest isn’t common (unless you live in Westeros). That and the fact that it’s just plain icky.

1. Phobias

phobia

It’s thought that phobias are developed through particularly bad life experiences that may cause irrational fears. But according to a study conducted at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, phobias can be passed down through generations. Experiences can be inherited from your ancestors, which also causes you to take on their phobias. And you thought that ugly sweater was the worst gift your grandmother ever gave you.

This was found by taking mice and making them fear cherry blossoms by using electric shocks when they smelled it. After they completely feared the smell of cherry blossoms, the researchers made them breed. Their offspring had an innate fear of the smell of cherry blossoms even though they hadn’t been exposed to it before.

Hereditary Behavior

– Blame it on Your Genes