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Misconceptions of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is when people have recurring and unwanted thoughts or obsessions that drive them to act out compulsions. These obsessions are hard to control or rationalize. Common obsessions include a fear of dirt or germs, symmetry or arrangement, and fears for their safety. Compulsions are repetitive and time consuming actions that prevent those with OCD from enjoying activities they like. Due to common misrepresentations of the disorder by the media, there are many misconceptions about OCD. Some of these misconceptions are discussed below.

Neat freaks have OCD.

To temporarily alleviate themselves of their obsessive thoughts, people with OCD act out compulsions. Hand washing can be a compulsion, but not everyone living with OCD has this compulsion.

OCD is untreatable

One way to treat OCD is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which can assist people with OCD to control their compulsions and face their fears. Medication can also be prescribed like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

OCD is a women’s disease.

This misconception is often assumed due to the number of women who have this illness, however men and children get it as well. It is stated by the International OCD Foundation, that OCD affects men and children of all racial, ethnic, and economic backgrounds as well. Signs of OCD can begin at any age, but normally it is seen around the ages of 10-12 or between late adolescence and early adulthood.

Informing others around you by reading credible sources will prevent the spreading of misinformation. If someone you know discriminates against people with OCD, you can inform them how people with OCD struggle. Having conversations with others can help spread awareness about the disorder.


  1. Orenstein, Beth W., et al. “8 Common Myths about OCD.”,

  2. “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 11 Mar. 2020,

  3. “OCD: Myths vs Reality.” Benenden Health, 11 Oct. 2021,

  4. What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?,,do%20something%20repetitively%20(compulsions).

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