OCD is a disorder that has at its core two clear symptoms:
i) obsessions: these are worrying thoughts, and direct fears, about certain issues. The issues are related to aspects of life that affect everyone: hygiene, safety, protecting one’s territory, order, keeping things that are deemed important, and also sexual and religious issues, as well as agression. In more recent years, some forms of anxiety became more frequently observed that are closely related to the above: worries about one’s bodily appearance, for instance. Now, contrary to what healthy persons experience, namely that such worries are of a fleeting nature, the patient has them in a highly repetitive and burdensome form. They keep on vexing the mind, and lead to ruminating states, that interfere with daily life and can affect social relations in a damaging way.
ii) compulsions: these are acts that have as their purpose to quench the fears described above. It is important to know that compulsions alleviate the worries only temporarily, and that the fears will eventually return in their full force. Compulsions have properties in common with obsessions: they must be performed numerous times and are hard to stop. They are notorious because they can be very time-consuming, and thus also interfere with everyday life, one’s occupation, and one’s relationships with one’s family, friends, and employer (if there is one at all).
It will be clear from the above that the patient has a feeling of not being free. One is chained to one’s OCD, and that is a dreadful feeling; OCD has been termed ‘the living nightmare’ for this reason.