Every morning Sarah takes a long shower and gets dressed for school just like other teenagers. However, before she can eat breakfast she must wash her hands and arms for an hour, making sure that they feel clean. Sometimes she scrubs so hard that her hands become raw and sore. After breakfast she once again washes her hands and then cleans her bedroom until it is spotless. Once Sarah gets to school, she avoids doorknobs and handrails, worried that she may be contaminated and develop a serious disease. Between every class she rushes to the restroom to wash her hands. Sarah has trouble staying caught up in school because she needs to check homework assignments numerous times. Once Sarah returns home from school she takes several baths and cleans her already spotless room. Because of these tedious and time consuming habits Sarah has little time for schoolwork and sleep.
Sarah is one of the 2.3% of Americans with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a diagnosis of patterns of behavior which interfere with the ability to function, characterized by obsession, compulsions, or both. (Corsini) Onset of this disorder usually occurs around late adolescence to early adulthood, though in some cases has appeared in children. Obsessions are characterized as any recurrent, intrusive thought, image or urge that is unwanted and cannot be controlled. (Kazdin) Obsessions are not simply excessive worries about real life problems, and the person attempts to control the obsessions by neutralizing them with some other thought or action. The person also realizes that the thoughts are a product of their own mind. (Mental health) Compulsions are defined as purposeful, repetitive behaviors or mental activities that are performed in a ritualistic or stereotypic way, generally with the function of reducing anxiety associated by obsessions. (Kazdin) The...