The personal account that I read about Dr. S's obsessive-compulsive disorder drastically changed my opinion of the mental illness. I did not realize that the disorder could be so serious and debilitating. I had very little knowledge of the illness and did not completely understand the symptoms or the affect it had on the inflicted individual. When I had first heard of people with obsessive-compulsive disorder I thought they were victims of extreme paranoia.
People with OCD checked the knobs on the stove more than usual because they were afraid of a fire or they checked the locks on the doors frequently because they were afraid that a perpetrator might burglarize them. This is as serious as I thought the illness was. After reading the story of Dr. S and his son, I now understand that this disorder interferes with the normal life of the individual and their family. All aspects of the person's life are affected. The OCD attack that Dr. S experienced on the drive to take his final exam was very surprising to me.
The attack actually caused him to be delusional. He believed that he had hit someone while driving down the highway even though there was no evidence that an accident did occur. He was so concerned about it that he went back to check the area several times. After he would check the area and find no signs of an accident he would start driving but he could not get the thoughts out of his head. This caused him to be late for his exam and he could not concentrate while taking the exam because all he could think about was that he hit someone. The OCD attack lasted the entire day and became so severe that he even checked his car several times before he went to bed to see if there were dents in the fender from a person's body.
The severity and the length of the attack amazed me. I thought that an attack of this nature only lasted for a few minutes not an entire day. When I first began to read this account my first impression was that people with OCD are crazy. How can someone believe that something they made up in their head is real when there is no physical evidence to support this? As I continued to read the story of Dr. S, I learned that this is a disorder that he has experienced since he was a child and that other members in his family have the illness as well. This leads me to believe that it could be caused by biological factors and is hereditary.
This means that these people did not just simply "go crazy". It appears that OCD is an illness and the people affected with it have no control over it. The disorder, in fact, has control over the individual. Dr. S. began to notice that his son had displayed bizarre behavior in his adolescent years.
He would dangle his fingers or strings in front of his face for hours. It would take the child 15 minutes to put his socks on because other things distracted him. From this, I come to the conclusion that OCD is not unlike other diseases such as, diabetes or heart disease, which can be passed down from generation to generation. I no longer believe that people with obsessive-compulsive disorder are crazy. I believe that they have an illness and that they need the proper medical care to at the least, relieve the symptoms of OCD, but more importantly to rid them of the debilitating disorder. My idea that people with OCD were just paranoid and ridiculous has vanished.
These people are suffering. The disease has taken control of their lives and the lives of their families. It can destroy the individual as well as the people they are associated with. As surreal as the delusions may seem to us, they are very real to the person inflicted with OCD. People that we know, that are very close to us could have OCD and we may not know it.