I’ll admit to having a quirk or two… I arrange the clothes in my wardrobe by colour. I count to myself up to 8 while going up and down the stairs as well as while doing other tasks. And before I go to sleep, I always double check whether I’ve locked the door and closed all the windows. Does that mean that I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), a condition characterised by obsessions and/or compulsions? One of the criteria for being diagnosed with OCD is that obsessions and/or compulsions take more than an hour a day and cause significant distress and impairment.
Given this criterion, my quirks are just that as they don’t occupy much of my time and don’t cause distress or impairment in my day-to-day life. They actually make a lot of sense to me and help me get on with things more quickly and efficiently. Arranging clothes by colour helps me choose a better outfit in the morning. Counting up to 8 helps me not lose the focus on what I’m doing and probably indicates that I’ve done one step and aerobics class too many! Double-checking doors and windows can be traced back to when I was a teenager: our family home got broken into three times and on one occasion a window had been left open which was a kind of invitation. So now I always make sure that I’m not ‘inviting’ anyone in!
But how can you tell whether there’s something more to a quirk? A simple analysis will not suffice, as our mind is capable of justifying the most irrational things. Moreover one of the characteristics of OCD is that people affected have varying degrees of insight into the truthfulness of their beliefs. If people have very poor insight into their belief they will not even question its truthfulness. The table below, which is organised in alphabetical order, covers 10 of the most common obsessions and compulsions typical of OCD and gives an indication as to whether the help of a professional might be required.
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