Tuesday, April 28, 2009

OCD & What to Look For In Children

This is for my friend Jim, who asked me to write a blog about the signs of OCD in children. Jim runs a daycare center, and is always searching for knowledge regarding the children that are placed in his care.

Children often spend more time with their teachers or caregivers then with their parents during typical weekdays. I agree with you Jim, it is important for everyone to look for signs of OCD in kids.


According to my own personal experiences, I have compiled a list of possible early warning signs of OCD in children:

• A child with red and cracked hands, which could mean excessive hand-washing rituals.

• Spending too much time in the bathroom, which may mean he is performing showering or grooming rituals.

• Constantly re-writing or erasing while doing assignments. OCD will cause some children to take a long time to complete their homework due to checking or repeating rituals.

• Constantly insisting that certain activities, such as your washing their clothes, are done in a specific way. This behavior could mean that they are enlisting you to perform their rituals.

• Repeating normal actions often, such as combing hair or brushing teeth, could indicate repeating rituals.

• Asking parents or friends to say certain words, or not to say them, may mean they are obeying mental INTRUSIVE THOUGHTS, which compel them to ask you these things.

• Always entering or leaving rooms in a specific way, which may indicate ritualizing.

• Excessive clutter or an accumulation of useless objects that your child will not dispose of may mean hoarding problems.

• Excessive neatness and having to have possessions in perfect order may be due to ordering compulsions.

• Counting while performing activities can be due to counting rituals.

• Constant preoccupation may be due to obsessional thinking.

• Praying for long periods, or in a certain order, or sacrificing things may be indicators of scrupulosity.

• Avoidance of certain objects or people may mean contamination issues.

• Constant asking for reassurance or asking if they are loved, may be rituals.

• Taking an unusual amount of time to move may mean mental rituals.

• Increased activity before bedtime may mean having to complete rituals before sleep, or constant early rising may also be a sign that your child is compelled to ritualize before school.

• Depression or winter depression that is accompanied by any other symptoms of OCD means your child needs help.

These are not all of the signs of OCD. Like in adults, the behaviors may encompass an infinite variety of actions. However, being aware of these signs may save a child from a lifetime of suffering.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

OCD & Subconscious Sabotage

Why do some people with OCD (or many others for that matter) sometimes subconsciously sabotage themselves? Why is that? Why do we sometimes stop ourselves from enjoying things and being happy? I’m trying to be aware of this in my life, and want to raise awareness of this in your lives also. It is not the universe that has it in for us – it is the constant, automatic thought patterns that we have created over the years which automatically kick in when we sense that something good is about to happen.

I found a good site, http://www.eruptingmind.com/why-people-self-sabotage/ and got this:
“Self-sabotage is a term used to describe the things people do or say which ruins success or happiness they experience in life.” You are a victim of this if:
1) You acquire some degree of good fortune, success and happiness, but can never reach the next level no matter how hard you work.
2) You achieve something great – a high level of success or happiness, then quickly lose it.
3) You are close to achieving something, then it suddenly slips away.

I think that the causes are deeply rooted in the unconscious mind and mostly formed in childhood. Guilt or low self esteem that is instilled in an impressionable child’s mind could cause him as an adult to unconsciously think he doesn’t deserve anything good. Perhaps it could be self-hatred a child acquired from not living up to someone’s ideals. Perhaps a sensitive child was moved from place to place and never settled into a school or made friends. As an adult, any change or move could trigger unconscious pain. Maybe a child who got sick or failed at something was treated with love and attention or rewarded, so as an adult she may have a twisted connection between illness, failure, and pleasure.

I really liked how the site described all of this; we have created a “success thermostat” and the subconscious mind will automatically regulate our success and happiness levels with what we believe we are worthy of. The major areas of our lives that this affects are relationships, money, health, and career. There was a story about a girl named Mary, whose parents constantly told that she was not as attractive as her sister and that she would be lucky if men even looked at her. She grew to be a beautiful woman and attracted many men, but she couldn’t sustain a relationship with any of them. She had held that belief that she wasn’t good enough, and subconsciously reinforced this by being demanding, obsessive, possessive and controlling. She always got what she subconsciously thought she deserved.

Awareness of thought is critical. Identify the automatic negative thinking when something potentially makes you happy and link it to something in the past that may have caused this. Challenge your subconscious belief system – it is not real. I hope this helps all of us to move upwards, reset our “success thermostats” and to enjoy all the good things in life.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

OCD & Daydreaming

I’m thinking about my childhood and how many times I have heard “STOP DAYDREAMING!” Alright, I admit that sometimes it was in school during math class, but I looking back I wish that I did not listen to that advice. I wish I had my mental paradise back again.

Why have I lost or forgotten about my ability to daydream? Where are my magical creatures that would transport me anywhere through time and space? Has this also happened to you? OCD, or any mental affliction for that matter, can destroy happy thoughts and daydreams. The time is now spent obsessing about some disaster or anxious thought. We need to get these distressing things out of our minds! Maybe, by mentally time traveling back to our childhoods, and thinking like we did as children, we can regain some of that magical time and forget about our current circumstances.

When I was a child I used to daydream a lot. I had magical worlds that I could travel to in an instant. Within seconds I would be transported to a far away beach where I would find a Genie bottle with an infinite amount of wishes. Sometimes I and all my family and friends would live in mansions on mystical islands and discover great treasures. I had a forest full of magical animal friends who could talk to me and fly me wherever I wanted to go, or keep me warm and cozy in the softest, purest living fur. I could wear jewels and explore fantastic castles. I didn’t need a plane because I could teleport anywhere, or could sail the oceans at will.

I’m really looking forward to mentally time traveling back to my younger days, and experiencing the feelings I had when things were exciting and possibilities were endless and the universe was mine. I hope that we all can regain the art of Daydreaming, and I believe that if people did this more often, their OCD, mental afflictions, and their lives in general would be much better off. Pleasant daydreams to all!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

OCD & Are You Settling For Numbness?

An OCD "attack"can become so distressing that a person would prefer to feel nothing instead of the unrelenting disturbing feelings of anxiety, depression, and panic that obsessions can cause. It's awful! For some people it's not even OCD - it can be an event, or a change in life circumstance which triggers very negative emotions. If you are at the point where numbness is preferable to what you are feeling, it is time to do something about it. Even just understanding this is helpful, because you need to realize that you are in a chronic state of pain and you don’t have to live this way. Don’t settle for numbness, even if it seems as if is an improvement. Your goal should be happiness, which is the absence of pain.

First thing, if possible, is to do something physical so that you can drain energy, which will lessen the physical effects of anxiety. I know that some people can become frozen and unable to move when in the grips of fear, but if you can work out, take a walk, run up and down the steps - do anything you can in order to tire yourself out.

When you get to the point where you can think rationally, entertain the idea that you do not have to live this way any longer and that your current state of mind or obsession is only temporary. You will look back on this episode one day in the future and it will be over. "All things must pass," as George Harrison once wisely said.

You are entitled to a life of happiness, and you can eventually live with joy as your normal state of being. This may sound like an unobtainable and ridiculous goal because of your current state of intense anxiety, fear, and depression, but it isn't. If you can just contemplate and nurture the idea that you can feel happiness, that will be one step towards achieving it. Believing is not always easy though, it takes practice. If you can get a picture of yourself at one point in the future being happy, perhaps doing something you have always wanted to do, that is a good start. Concentrate on this image and bring it to mind often. You can change it, add to it, whatever works for you. If you do this often, it will not seem so foreign and will eventually get into your subconscious.

I wish you happiness always.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

OCD & Your Pet Can Have it Too

A friend of mine, Stella, responded to my last blog, OCD & Your Vinyl Floor, and raised a very good point. Stella wondered that if environmental pollutants can cause OCD in children, what about our pets? I do believe that OCD is not just a human disorder and that animals also suffer from it. I think the triggers are stress and the environment. Today I will be writing about dogs, but OCD can affect cats and other pets as well.

In looking around the Internet, I found this:

” If you have ever wondered just why your dog will not stop barking, even when you see nothing to bark about, your dog could very well be suffering from OCD tendencies. Contrary to what was once believed, canines do suffer from forms of OCD disorders. The most common include excessive barking and compulsive uncontrolled licking and it most commonly occurs in larger breed dogs. Dogs that have OCD tendencies have both a genetic predisposition and environmental stresses that trigger the behavior.

OCD behaviors in canines resembles that of humans in that dogs demonstrate repetitive behaviors, apparently without being able to control it. The onset can be both gradual and sudden, depending on what triggered the behavior. Moreover, what behaviors are demonstrated depends on what type of breed the dog is. It is most common for longhaired dogs to over groom themselves. Dogs raised for herding may chase and hoard all of the time and predatory breeds such as a Doberman or rot may bite."
To read the full article, go to:

I also read that boredom is also a trigger for OCD in animals and shows up as compulsive barking, digging, running in patterns and tail chasing. The best remedy is tiring out your pet by doing safe and fun things – walks, fetch, etc. This also helps obesity.
"A tired dog is a content dog, and not a compulsive pet. Get out and play more!”

Also, “Compulsive Disorders can also be part of your dog's genetic make-up. Certain breeds are pre-disposed to these behaviors, such as Dobermans, who suck on their skin, German Shepherds, who chase their own tails, and English Bull Terriers, who have the odd habit of sticking their heads underneath objects and freezing in place.”
To read the complete article, go to:

I also found out that most dogs with OCD were obtained from breeders. I also read something that said plastic water bowls can cause OCD in pets. Also, there was some really scary stuff I read on http://www.ewg.org/node/26239 about chemical exposure and pets’ health. I found this to be interesting also:

In my opinion, what causes mental and physical problems in people also causes them in our pets. Thanks Stella, for making us aware.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

OCD & Your Vinyl Floor

I believe that there is a link between environmental toxins and OCD and the related disorders, such as autism and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). We are being bombarded by an assortment of man-made chemicals which are saturating our environment and polluting the air and our bodies, such as plastics, artificial fragrances, scented detergents, artificial coloring, artificial sweeteners, and way too many more for me to list here. These artificial pollutants are especially damaging to children, and could be affecting young brains and bodies in a negative way. Some research I did said:

“A preliminary new study from Sweden suggests that children who live in homes with vinyl flooring are more likely to have autism. The plastics used to make vinyl flooring can emit chemicals called phthalates, previously shown to contribute to allergies and asthma, and now suspected of playing a role in the development of autism. The study found that infants and toddlers who had vinyl bedroom floors (common in Sweden) were twice as likely to be autistic five years later than kids with wood floors. Scientists are still not sure which biological and environmental factors cause autism, which is dramatically on the rise, and urged further research.”

“In the last few decades, scientists have pointed out possible factors that may lead to the occurrence of ADHD. Some of these possible factors are brain injury, heredity, environmental toxins, maternal smoking and drug use or exposure of the mother to environmental toxins during pregnancy, and sugar and food additives.”

“If one identical twin has OCD, there is a 13 percent chance that the other twin will not be affected. This supports the idea that genes are only part of the cause of OCD. Other factors are also important. It may be a viral infection that occurs at a critical point in a child's development, or perhaps an exposure to an environmental toxin.”

I think that by being aware of the toxins around us, and by using natural products whenever possible, we can eliminate many mental and physical disorders in ourselves, and more importantly, our children.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

OCD & The Barbie Doll

When I was a child, my mother bought a Barbie doll for me. She was the only doll that I liked and the only one allowed in my room. Barbie was cool and had a boyfriend named Ken, who obviously adored her. Barbie had the nicest clothes, which you could purchase separately, and you could pick out what she would wear for her dates with Ken. Barbie had her own case, which I locked up every night.

When I was a child, Barbie was all the rage. I even had a Barbie game, where you could double date with Barbie, Ken and Poindexter, who I thought was geeky. Unlike many other toys who have been around for a long time, Barbie never lost her popularity. She has grown into a mega-bucks industry. Barbie just celebrated her 50th birthday on March 9, and she is still the top-selling toy in the United States, especially with girls under the age of 6. In today’s times, this could be a mixed blessing.

When I was a child, plastic surgery wasn’t a viable option for most of the population, and was considered a practice mostly for the rich and famous. As children, we were not bombarded with TV and magazine ads of perfect women, and the expectations for physical perfection were nowhere like they are today. We enjoyed our Barbie’s without anxiety. Now, little girls under the age of 6 are led to believe that this is what they should look like when they grow up. And it’s not just Barbie, it’s mostly everything their environment is being bombarded with – TV, magazines, movies, etc. I think this is fertile ground for OCD, body dimorphic disorders, and eating disorders.

Today, there is something known as the “Barbie Syndrome,” which is an actual disorder. I have seen TV shows and read articles about women who undergo drastic surgeries in order to look like Barbie. I saw a show about a woman, Cindy Jackson, who has had plastic surgery 47 times in order to look like a Barbie doll . “Toy manufacturers set this expectation by developing and marketing the Barbie doll, whose measurements are physiologically impossible," say Jennifer Derenne, M.D., and Eugene Beresin, M.D., in the journal 'Academic Psychiatry.' "With increased availability of plastic surgery, today's women are faced with similarly unrealistic expectations every time they open a fashion magazine. A growing number of girls are experiencing this pressure to be beautiful, have a perfect body and a boyfriend from very young ages. Unfortunately, this is becoming a bad part of our culture.

I hope that these false expectations can be removed from the minds of little girls in today’s society, and they could just go back to playing and relaxing, and being kids again. I think if that were the case, many mental disorders could be avoided.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

OCD & April Fools Day

I was looking around for some info about OCD & April Fools Day and came across this article written by Michael Brykov, On the Ezine @rticles website. Bad Jokes For April Fools' Day People with OCD may be very sensitive to April Fool jokes. I hope they are aware of the day, and on the lookout for pranksters…

“April 1st is a wonderful day when we are free to make jokes, pranks and gags on our relatives, friends and colleagues. However, the question is; why is it that human nature provokes us to laugh at the expense of others like we do on April Fools’ Day?
Let's observe the typical structure of a joke. It consists of two "messages" or, in general, "impacts". The first one is usually used to transfer some kind of misleading information to a person. At this point the information looks like a simple truth that people have no reason to doubt. Therefore a person begins to believe this information is really true. At the moment when a person puts absolute truth in new information the second "impact" is made. It usually contains contrary information, somewhat like this: "Relax, it is just a joke".
This kind of joke is harmful to a person’s mental state because each of us has his/her own "picture of reality". The information, which is in conflict with our "picture", enforces us to make certain efforts to change that "picture". This process is quite unpleasant, especially when a very important part of the "picture" needs to be changed. So, that is why jokes may be very harmful, even if done with best intentions.
At that, it doesn't matter how "good" or "bad" the first "message" (or "impact") is. Here is an example:
1st message: - Hello Mary! Did you know your husband died?2nd message: - Relax it is just an April 1st joke.
If Mary loves her husband, then the first message is a shock for her. Even the second message cannot compensate her stress. If Mary hates her husband, then the first message may even cause her to be delighted. But the second message immediately “turns off” her delight. Regardless the April 1st joke provokes a person to feel strong emotions which are later taken away from them.
Here is another very bad April 1st joke.
In connection with all these considerations the only acceptable jokes are those, which we all remember from our school years. For example, placing a sticker on a person’s back or singing a song whilst altering the words to parody news current news topics.”

Enjoy April Fools Day - but BE ALERT!!!