1 Introduction and Thesis Introduction When I was young, I used to constantly hum one solitary note every few seconds or minutes throughout the day. I also used to glide the tips of my fingers right behind my ear just so I could be assured that my hair was in place. It was almost impossible to avoid. I was continually asked the question, "why do you do that," from my classmates and friends. It was sometimes embarrassing. Then one day, my "habit" disappeared. Today, my cousin R.J. coughs for no reason every minute. My friend Brian V. constantly picks his rear end, only when driving, thinking he's playing it off. I"m always told that I pray more than once before eating my meal. My response is, "I did?" There are many people who have odd or common habits. But there are those who are endlessly encircled by rituals and anxious thoughts called obsessive-compulsive disorder. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (or OCD) is characterized by anxious thoughts or rituals you feel you cannot control. If you have OCD, as it is called, you may be plagued by persistent, unwelcome thoughts or images, or by the urgent need to engage in certain rituals. You may be obsessed with germs or dirt, so you wash your hands over and over. You may be filled with doubt and feel the need to check things repeatedly. You might be preoccupied by thoughts of violence and fear that you will harm people close to you. You may spend long periods of time touching things or counting. You may be preoccupied by order or symmetry. You may have persistent thoughts of performing sexual acts that are repugnant to you. Or you may be troubled by thoughts that are against your religious beliefs. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder- pg. 2 The disturbing thoughts or images are called obsessions, and the rituals that are performed to try to prevent or dispel them are called compulsions. There is no pleasure in carrying out the rituals you are drawn to, only temporary relief from the discomfort caused by the obsession.