Do you find yourself arranging things in order all day? Do you always seek symmetry in everything, even in daily life? Do the unordered and scattered things give you a feeling of anxiety? Do you always want to see the things in pairs? Do the things not having symmetry and exactness give you a feeling that you should correct them immediately? You may or may not be suffering from a mental disorder called OCD. In this session, I will talk about the OCD of symmetry and disorder in detail including the symptoms and treatment.
What is OCD?
OCD is simply an abbreviation of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. It is a mental illness in which a good or evil thought or a reminder comes to our mind repetitively and creates stress, anxiety and an excessive amount of moral emotions like, guilt, shame, fear etc.
There are many examples of it like thinking repetitively if you have closed the door or not if you have changed your ATM pin, what if your dad picks up your girlfriend’s call. Deep inside, you know that this can’t happen, but you can’t stop yourself being afraid or guilty of these things. It is called obsession.
Then you take action to console yourself, you check the door, you take your phone, you ask your wife about the gas. It is called Compulsion. It gives you small satisfaction but the moral emotion or anxiety returns after some time. Combining both terms, we get the name of the illness, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD.
Types of OCD
There are many types of OCD like Scrupulosity the religious OCD, OCD of compulsive checking, OCD of sex, Contamination OCD.
In Scrupulosity, the patient gets bad thoughts about God and that create anxiety in his mind that he has done something wrong. And for the compulsion he does an excessive amount of holy activities like worship.
In the OCD of compulsive checking, the patient has an obsession that he or she hasn’t done something perfectly and this might be harmful for the loved ones. Like he has left the door open and someone can enter the home and kill the family members.
The OCD of contamination is the most common type of OCD there. In this ocd, the person has a thought that something is contaminated or infected from a virus. So he or she fears to touch the thing. She thinks that her hands are not clean and may be infected from the virus. For the compulsion they wash their hands many times a day. They fear going to public places and using public things.
The OCD of Symmetry and Order:
The OCD of symmetry is related to arranging the things in symmetry and order. Individuals suffering with symmetry OCD are all time depressed about arranging the things in a particular way. If the things are not aligned correctly, their mind will tell them that this is incomplete. These types of people want symmetry and order in everything. For example when they are writing, they think if all the letters are aligned in a particular way, all the letters have the same height, the ‘O’ is perfectly circular or not. If all these are not satisfied, they erase them and write them again. So they can’t even write a letter.
Whenever they go, they seek for symmetry. You may see these people sitting in front of you and arranging the pens on the table in a particular way, keeping the newspaper in the corner, placing the cup symmetrically on the plate, etc.
This OCD is mostly ignored because people think that it is common to have this. People always love to be arranged and ordered. And that is true also. But when it comes to OCD, the thoughts create anxiety in their mind and they can’t keep themselves away to do it correctly. Even they can;t do anything else except arrange them in order. They can’t focus on the original work they are doing but they only arrange the things in order.
Obsessions of this OCD may be somewhat stereotyped that the person involved himself constantly arranging the misaligned things in a comical order.
For example, a girl in my class had an incident in the class. She focuses on the side zips of the teacher’s sweater. She finds that one of them is closed and the other one is opened. So, this thought makes her anxious and she couldn’t focus on the class. After some time, she had to tell the teacher to close the other one too because she is unable to focus. That shows that she is suffering from the OCD of symmetry.
Obsessions of Symmetry OCD:
People with symmetry OCD always seek for symmetry in everything. When they see something that is not in symmetry and order, they have a thought that creates anxiety in her mind. They can’t bear not having something in order, so they have to arrange them in order for compulsion. These thoughts may have an anxious thought.
These anxious thoughts are provided by their cultural inheritance. They think that their culture demands symmetry. If there is something they have that is not in symmetry, they are excluded from society. They think that educated persons keep things in order and if they don’t do so, they will be excluded from the society of educated people.
The other reason for having this is related to extra care of another person. They think that their beloved ones will feel ease in finding things if they are in order and if they are not in order, their beloved ones will have to do hard work to find the things. So it is essential for them to keep things in symmetry. They think that they have to do this because they love their beloved ones and not doing this would mean that they don’t love them.
The third reason for doing this is related to show off. The people having this want to prove themselves higher than the rest of society. They think that when someone else from the society will visit them, he or she should think that this home is perfect. So they want to make their house complete in symmetry and order.
The other reason for having this is a feeling that they will be ashamed if someone in the society points out the mistake in symmetry and they will be proved wrong. So they think that the asymmetry is a question on their reputation so they have to give attention to it.