Obsessive Disorders

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental illness characterized by the presence of recurrent, unwanted ideas or impulses (obsessions) and an urge or compulsion to do something to relieve the discomfort caused by the obsession.

Obsessions and compulsions are distressing, exhausting, take up a lot of time, and can significantly interfere with a person’s relationships, daily routines and working life. Common obsessions include: fear of contamination from germs, dirt, etc.; fear of harm to self or others; intrusive sexual thoughts or images; concerns with symmetry, illness or religious issues; an intense fear of everyday objects and situations (phobia). Common compulsions include: washing, cleaning, touching, checking and repeating routine activities.

The causes are not completely understood. Research indicates that the disorder may be related to chemical, structural and functional abnormalities in the brain. Genetic factors may also play a role. Each person’s OCD is likely to be the result of several interacting factors, including stressful life events, hormonal changes and personality traits.

The three basic types of treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder are medications, cognitive behaviour therapy and community support programs.

Programming Considerations

  • Provide clear concise instructions.
  • Design short bursts of activity tokeep concentration levels up.


Behaviour Management Issues

May need to negotiate a certain amount of time free from obsessions, such as 10minutes of an activity and then 10 minutes of free time.

(Source – Sane Australia fact sheet)

Further information

Sane Australia – www.sane.org.au

Victorian Government – www.health.gov.au