Page 1 of 1 [ 12 posts ] 

Chronos
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 22 Apr 2010
Age: 40
Gender: Female
Posts: 8,698

24 Jan 2011, 11:44 pm

There is a common problem in the field of mental health, and that is the tendency to associate anything obsessive or compulsive, or obsessive and compulsive in nature, with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Those of us with OCD find this quite annoying, and personally I find it a bit shameful as well, as there really is no excuse as to why a mental health worker should be so misinformed about such a well described disorder.

As a person with OCD, who also happens to have "special" interests, it's actually quite easy for me to distinguish between the two in my mind.

When something is a special interest, I have an intense urge to seek the answers to specific questions I have about. I have an intense urge to read voraciously about it, and absorb information which I feel answers my questions, like a sponge absorbs water. If it's a long term special interest, I like to think about it and go over things I already know. I can marvel at telescopes for hours.

You see these types of obsessions and compulsions are driven by positive influences and should I ignore the urge to pursue my interests, nothing negative will come of it except perhaps slight annoyance.

OCD is entirely different. While OCD may share similar circuitry as other types of obsessions and compulsions, it has it's own biophysiological mechanisms.

Obsessions in OCD aren't really obsessions. They are intrusive thoughts and concepts which are usually of a negative, often disturbing nature, and arise within the basal ganglia structure, deep within the brain. They can frequently catch someone with OCD by surprise, needing no external influences to arise, however are most often experienced after initial onset in relevant situations. To stop these thoughts, the person will often resort to performing specific rituals. It an interesting thing because while each person develops these rituals on their own, they are not arbitrary in nature, and the specifics of such rituals are also an aspect of the disorder. More often than not, another multiple individuals with the same intrusive thoughts or fears will have devised the same ritual to relieve them.

Most parents will encounter OCD in their children in terms of the rituals. The child may seem to wash their hands frequently, and become visibly upset when they are prohibited from doing so, or interrupted. The child may have to touch something in a particular way a particular number of times. These are typical compulsions. However compulsions can be more unusual as well, for example, the child may feel that if they wear a particular color "something bad will happen" and may only express this to you in an out right tantrum upon being forced to wear the color.

So how does one distinguish this from the repetitive behaviors and obsessions seen in AS and autistic spectrum disorders? Can you even make a distinction if the child also has OCD? It's possible to do so.

The motivating intentions and perceptions, after all, are quite different. There is a difference between feeling a state of Zen when all toys or blocks are perfectly aligned, and feeling that if the blocks are not perfectly aligned, your father will die.

You can always ask your child why they are doing what they are doing, but most children, even children with AS, are going to lie about this because the disorder carries a heavy sense of shame, or fear of ridicule, as the child usually knows they are being illogical and don't need to be told so. You might say "You know, some people do things because they worry something bad will happen if they don't, even though they know it won't," and see how your child responds to that.

Watch your children closely for certain rituals and familiarize yourself with rituals common to OCD. A child who is interrupted during an OCD ritual, after becoming extremely upset, will usually quickly start over rather than pick up where they left off. However, if the child is removed from the area without being allowed to finish the ritual, it's usually quite easy to distract them because the need to perform the ritual often dissipates quickly.

Conversely, a child who has been interrupted in the middle of repetitive autistic play is more prone to tantrum about it for quite some time, and will carry their obsessions around with them. For example, the child is still on about their interests in the car 30 minutes later.



Kai_Bliss
Sea Gull
Sea Gull

User avatar

Joined: 21 Jul 2010
Age: 25
Gender: Male
Posts: 218

26 Jan 2011, 1:24 pm

Thanks for the info, I find it helpful.



zee
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 18 Jul 2007
Age: 39
Gender: Female
Posts: 1,280
Location: on a cloud

27 Jan 2011, 2:03 pm

I see the difference between the 2 types of obsession, but I've always had both. Although I'm a lot more 'OCD' in dark, scary times of my life--but apparently "many nervous people have rituals they do to calm themselves". (quote from an intake worker)



MelyssaK
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker

User avatar

Joined: 1 Feb 2011
Age: 33
Gender: Female
Posts: 59
Location: Pennsyvlania

03 Feb 2011, 12:47 am

I also have both. I have a ritual of obsessively using my fingernails to make sure my part is completely straight, and it makes my scalp sore and breaks some strands of my hair. I have been doing it since 6th grade. I started doing it as a way to keep my hands busy so I wouldn't crack my knuckles, which I still do! So, a LOT of help the hair thing did! I can only stop doing it by putting a bandana on my head or occupying my hands. Excessive combing of my hair to ensure that "no hair cross each other" is something I often do, even though i know it's impossible to have NO hair crossing. My last haircut was so short I could comb my part away and it disappeared. Oh, those few months were heaven. But now my hair is too long to hang down without covering my eyes completely, so I am back to it. I also run my fingers through my hair, especially in the chunk of hair that hangs in front of the left side of my head and face. If a short broken strand of hair is touching my forehead slightly or if I see it sticking out from the other hairs, I have to smooth it over and try to put it behind my ears, even though it's not long enough to stay hooked behind them. (I am doing it right now!) To make sure no hairs are sticking up, which is unavoidable because the part ritual routinely breaks strands, I run my palms flat in the direction of the hair to try to smooth it out. I always am finding fallen hairs on my pillow and the shoulders and backs of my shirts. I hope to stop someday.

I used to have a ritual where (this one is really hard to explain) if a part of my body were in the way slightly of a door, drawer or such object closing and my body part, like a finger or toe, or even if the door brushed the side of my leg as it was closing, I would have to reopen the object, swipe my leg or finger the opposite way that it did when it made contact with the edge and make sure that when I closed it again, no part of my body touched it. My reason behind this was something like, "Oh, part of my spirit will get caught pinched in it and when I walk away, it will be stetched out to however far away from this object I go. When I open the door, the caught part of my spirit will be released back to me." Because, back then, I thought of my spirit as having the same exact shape as my body and making every same movement, except that it was REALLY elastic and could get caught in things if a part of my body were pinched. I was able to overcome that many years ago, though.

I have more! As a child, if I were doing something that ultimeately ended in my body completing one axial rotation (such as running and turning corners, pacing, or when I was an egret in my school's play and we were walking in elongated circles) I would have to rotate the opposite way how every many times it took so that my 'net total' of rotations was zero. But I preferred to never turn at all. I had a trick that (imagine someone pacing) I would, rather than make a turn at an acute angle, I would stop, and reverse my driection while moving slightly backwards. Kind of like the same motion that a car makes when you have to make, what's it called, a 5-point turn or something. Instead of angling right and forward, you stop, turn the wheels left, and go in reverse. I hope I explained that comprehensibly.
This happened to characters I controlled in videogames, too. Took me longer to play because of it.

And I also used to have a similiar ritual with my eyeballs. To a stranger, it looked like my eyes were having seizures or something. But if I moved my eyeballs to look at something and they made a curving downward and right motion, I would have to fix it and make them do an upward left motion. And I remember that moving my eyeballs all the way to one side or the other, or up or down, and opening my eyes a little wider than normal for a fraction of a second several times in a row were included in that ritual...for some reason. I have mostly stopped that, but I occasionally catch myself performing these corrective motions.
It seems that all my rituals included preventing my body from doing anything that would make the motions it made uneven or asymmetrical, now that I think about it. Thank goodness I overcome most of them. But I still struggle with the hair one.

I also used to have a counting ritual. As a child, if there was a presence of anything of small objects that crossed my path, like if beads fell on the floor, if I spilled cereal pieces, dropped crayons, etc., (or for larger far away object, like cars passing me between red lights, or multiple aircraft passing overhead high in the sky,) I would pick them up (the small objects) and have to know how many there were. For the far away objects, I would use my fingertip to count them off, making an arch motion between individual objects, and nodding my head as I counted each one. Odd thing was, I didn't always count things, but when I did, I had to be 100% sure I was correct in how many there were. My latest bout of something similar was about 4 years ago. I would eat Good-and-Plentys, one at a time, look at each one, and tally on paper how many pink and white ones there were. That did not last long, thank goodness, because it took me a long time to eat my candy!

Oh, I just remembered, that for years I have had this ritual that I do randomly where I make little figure 8 motions with my hands or fingers, and even with my feet by moving my ankles or knees, when I am engrossed in a tevelesion show or the like. They can be squished figure 8's that more resemble arches or they can be perfect infinity signs. They can be so small that they look like twitches or so large as to cover over an inch. I don't always realize I'm doing it, but when I do, I stop. And a few minutes later, I realize I am doing it again. I also twiddle my thumbtips around the fingenail of a finger on the same hand when I get bored, usually in the shape of some kind of figure 8. There is no absurd logic behind why I do these, since I only sometimes realize myself that I am doing it. But I think I only do them when I am completely focused on something that does not require me to move my hands and/or feet.

I have no idea how I managed to remember these in such detail, but I did. Looking back on it all now, I really had some odd rituals!! And looking at how I have so enthusiastically typed everything I do, I am almost embarrassed, especially because I still do all the stuff with my hair and my part.



ShadesOfMe
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 30 Jun 2004
Age: 29
Gender: Female
Posts: 16,983
Location: California

03 Feb 2011, 2:02 am

I have OCD too. It's not terribly bad anymore, but it's still problematic. Like for instance have to reshut a door because it didn't make the proper sound or feeling. I feel a sense of dread. I have to clean out cracks, and dusty objects like fans. afterwords I feel relief. Sometimes i have t take a certain glass or cookie. I used to have it terribly when i was about 15. (everything was worse then) where I'd have to do things because I thought I'd died if I didn't. I manage it with my depression meds.

It can be super embarrassing to be in a store, like a best buy and want to clean out the cracks in the video game controllers. usually my mom is with me, and she notices when I'm having problems and redirects me.


It is a bit annoying to have people say "oh i'm so ocd" or when different people don't understand the differences.



astaut
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 2 Sep 2009
Age: 29
Gender: Female
Posts: 1,777
Location: Southeast US

03 Feb 2011, 12:21 pm

Chronos wrote:
The motivating intentions and perceptions, after all, are quite different. There is a difference between feeling a state of Zen when all toys or blocks are perfectly aligned, and feeling that if the blocks are not perfectly aligned, your father will die.


Good post. One or two psychologists has mentioned OCD to me before like I might have it, but I've always said I don't. I feel like the first one in the example above (when I do certain things), never the latter.


_________________
After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true.
--Spock


Chronos
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 22 Apr 2010
Age: 40
Gender: Female
Posts: 8,698

04 Feb 2011, 9:44 pm

astaut wrote:
Chronos wrote:
The motivating intentions and perceptions, after all, are quite different. There is a difference between feeling a state of Zen when all toys or blocks are perfectly aligned, and feeling that if the blocks are not perfectly aligned, your father will die.


Good post. One or two psychologists has mentioned OCD to me before like I might have it, but I've always said I don't. I feel like the first one in the example above (when I do certain things), never the latter.


I should add that not everyone with OCD is going to get the "something bad will happen" sensation, but if they don't get that, they will get a very unpleasant sensation that something is off balance or out of place with unarticulated negative or ominous undertones.



MelyssaK
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker

User avatar

Joined: 1 Feb 2011
Age: 33
Gender: Female
Posts: 59
Location: Pennsyvlania

05 Feb 2011, 7:18 pm

Chronos wrote:
astaut wrote:
Chronos wrote:
The motivating intentions and perceptions, after all, are quite different. There is a difference between feeling a state of Zen when all toys or blocks are perfectly aligned, and feeling that if the blocks are not perfectly aligned, your father will die.


Good post. One or two psychologists has mentioned OCD to me before like I might have it, but I've always said I don't. I feel like the first one in the example above (when I do certain things), never the latter.


I should add that not everyone with OCD is going to get the "something bad will happen" sensation, but if they don't get that, they will get a very unpleasant sensation that something is off balance or out of place with unarticulated negative or ominous undertones.

That is what I would get, and still do, but to a lesser extent with the hair thing I do. I mostly get the urge to "pick at my part" as my folks have called it, when I am doing nothing to keep my hands busy, such as reading, typing, drawing, or studying, etc. When I am watching TV I do it. I think, "I don't want to do this, why am I doing it? Ouch, my scalp hurts," and, yet, I continue. If I don't do it, I can't stop thinking about it, and I get almost an uncomfortable feeling on the top of my head. I think I will talk to my therapist about it next time I see her.



amaris74
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker

User avatar

Joined: 22 Oct 2010
Age: 46
Gender: Female
Posts: 72
Location: New Zealand

09 Feb 2011, 3:47 am

MelyssaK wrote:
As a child, if I were doing something that ultimeately ended in my body completing one axial rotation (such as running and turning corners, pacing, or when I was an egret in my school's play and we were walking in elongated circles) I would have to rotate the opposite way how every many times it took so that my 'net total' of rotations was zero.


I used to do that all the time. I once heard it described as having a string attached to your body, which you don't want to get tangled so you have to "undo" whatever moves or rotations you've made. I thought that was quite an apt description. :)



MelyssaK
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker

User avatar

Joined: 1 Feb 2011
Age: 33
Gender: Female
Posts: 59
Location: Pennsyvlania

11 Feb 2011, 12:01 am

amaris74 wrote:
MelyssaK wrote:
As a child, if I were doing something that ultimeately ended in my body completing one axial rotation (such as running and turning corners, pacing, or when I was an egret in my school's play and we were walking in elongated circles) I would have to rotate the opposite way how every many times it took so that my 'net total' of rotations was zero.


I used to do that all the time. I once heard it described as having a string attached to your body, which you don't want to get tangled so you have to "undo" whatever moves or rotations you've made. I thought that was quite an apt description. :)
I'm glad I'm not the only one here who experienced that. I still occasionally get the urge to do it, but have learned to overcome it by thinking of "one" as good luck and being okay with one turn or movement, which is typical in everyday life. How are you doing with yours?



amaris74
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker

User avatar

Joined: 22 Oct 2010
Age: 46
Gender: Female
Posts: 72
Location: New Zealand

12 Feb 2011, 1:25 am

I still get the urge occasionally, but my OCD has calmed down a lot since I've been on Prozac.



ozmom
Hummingbird
Hummingbird

User avatar

Joined: 24 Mar 2006
Gender: Female
Posts: 22
Location: Missouri

19 Feb 2011, 8:48 pm

My adult autie/aspie son wants me to ask and find out if anyone has problems with OCD getting in the way of their special interests. Can anyone help?

We (his parents) think that the OCD need to be 100% sure of everything, plus the time his mental rituals take, cover up his special interests and make them not as interesting. Which of course, makes him really upset!! ! He feels stuck in his thoughts and can't do or enjoy anything. He checks to see if he enjoyed whatever he was doing, tries to decide which aspect of his interest he is really interested in, etc

You guys are great - you have explained the difference between OCD obsessions and ASD obsessions very well!! My son, too, would not change his ASD but detests OCD with every fiber of his being. He has had lots of therapy for it, gotten better, then new things pop up...