Dr. Helen Blair Simpson describes the misconceptions associated with obsessive compulsive disorder/OCD.
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Question: What are false impressions associated with obsessive compulsive disorder? Dr. Helen Blair Simpson: One is that OCD is not a severe disorder. In fact, OCD is very severe disorder and can really interfere with people's functioning. It's often not as prominent in people's mind like schizophrenia or bipolar illness because it's a much more hidden illness. People can often -- there are people with compulsive hoarding but no one knows that work because it's all going on at home, or there are people with intrusive concerns about contamination that not going out with their friends because of that but their friends don't know. So this is an illness that can be more hidden but that doesn't mean it doesn't terribly impairing and distressing to people. So I think one is OCD is a severe and disabling illness. The other thing is that people often get confused about and there is a lot of jokes about how you're being obsessive, how you're being compulsive. I think in the sort of same way that people use the work depression, you know I was depressed today, which is actually quite different than major depressive disorder. Likewise, people joke with me all the time, obsessive, compulsive, that also isn't OCD. There is this thing called obsessive compulsive personality disorder, this is a person who likes things very neat, to like things very orderly, who likes things very perfect, but they are not having intrusive obsessions and they are not having compulsive behaviors in the same way. It's sort of a personality style, and that's really what I think people are joking about. Obsessive compulsive disorder is this very discrete, specific set of symptoms and I think of anyone work with patients like I work with patients, people wouldn't joke about it anymore. It's sort of like if we were around someone who is dying of cancer, we wouldn't say something like, ah, I got so much homework this week, I just died over the weekend. We would actually not say that word because we would - we're understanding that we are in the situation that's really quite more serious and I think likewise. I think the jokes about obsessive and compulsive sometimes comes out of people not really understanding what OCD really is and how people suffer.