OCD Chicago

Your Child Can Get Better With Effective Treatment
Information for Parents

What OCD Isn’t

As education and public awareness about OCD have grown, so has the use of the term “OCD” as a description of some kinds of behavior that are not OCD.

When people use the terms “obsessive” and “compulsive” incorrectly, it leads to misunderstanding about OCD. You may have even heard someone say “that person must have OCD” when they are describing a person who is preoccupied with orderliness, has a strong interest in a subject or ardently performs an activity.  “Labeling” anyone, especially a child, is harmful and hurtful.

Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) is sometimes mistaken for OCD.  While the names are confusingly similar, the disorders are quite different.  OCD is an anxiety disorder; OCPD is a personality disorder.

A child with OCPD may be preoccupied with orderliness, perfectionism and control in virtually every part of his or her life.  But rather than being anxious about this, they see their behavior and thoughts as being OK.  A child with OCPD may spend an extreme amount of time cleaning and straightening up their room because they like a “perfect” appearance and want to consider it immaculately clean.  But while this behavior may seem “odd” or be frustrating to others, the child does not have OCD.  A child with OCPD is happy.  A child suffering from OCD is not happy.  A child with OCD is overwhelmed with the thoughts and fears that intrude into their brains. They want their obsessive thoughts, fears, doubts, and the associated urges to perform compulsive acts to stop, but they don’t know how to stop “the monster in their head”.

OCD also does not include children who exhibit an interest in collecting, or have a particular subject that interests them.  Collectors who have an avid interest in a subject, such as collecting stamps or dolls or cartoon memorabilia have fun receiving or acquiring items they are interested in, and are happy to talk about their collections or show them to others.

A child who is interested in a sport may talk about their favorite sport or players and may be able to remember sports statistics, but they don’t have OCD because of their interest.

In older children, teens and adults, OCD is not characterized by stalkers or “obsessed” fans, such as those who are reportedly “obsessed” with celebrities, such as television or movie stars, popular singers or professional athletes.  OCD does not include compulsive liars, compulsive shoppers, or children with phobias (such as fear of heights or flying, spiders, or leaving their home).  And having a “crush” on another person (especially a celebrity) is not OCD—even if the child or teen seems to be “obsessed” with wanting to read every magazine article about their “idol”, collecting fan memorabilia, reading and contributing to online blogs and wanting to buy every CD, DVD or video showing their favorite personality in action.

What are OCD symptoms?

What causes OCD?

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