Obsessed Fixation

Words: Dr Narayan C DESHPANDE

A 2014 report, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, was primarily intended to better inform doctors about obsessive-compulsive disorder [OCD]. The report  quoted Dr Jon E Grant, MD, a psychiatrist at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine, US, illustrating the case of a nineteen-year-old man who “washes his hands a hundred times a day; will not touch anything that has been touched by someone else without scrubbing it first; and, has a fear of germs that has left him isolated in his bedroom; is unable to eat; and, is wishing he were dead.” After just two years, the man’s disorder, as his father reported, had “gradually become completely disabling.” This was just the tip of the OCD ‘iceberg.’ Because — there is more to OCD than what meets the mind, the eye, and the ear.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder [OCD], an anxiety-centric muddle, is typified by two fundamental symptoms — obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are thoughts, images, or ideas that won’t go away, or are unwanted, and cause extreme distress. Compulsions are behaviours that you feel you must carry out over and over.

  • Obsessions and compulsions are often marked by a degree of shame — this may lead many OCD patients to obscure their symptoms and suffer in silence
  • Studies have identified four brain genes for OCD. The genes play a role in the same brain circuit. This may help elucidate why people are more likely to have OCD, if they have a relative with the condition.

Likewise, there are folks around us who can’t stop dabbing their hands completely clean, out of turn, or at every step, checking their door locks, or praying, again and again.

A Common Disorder 

OCD is one of the most common of psychological disorders. It extends from being ‘made light of’ to being varnished, all the same. It is, in fact, diagnosed as often as asthma and diabetes. Do you know that out of every ten individuals visiting a psychiatrist’s office, one is likely to be suffering from this ‘illness?’

Obsessed Distress 

OCD is highlighted by invasive thoughts — such thoughts often produce anxiety. This is expressed by repetitive behaviours, aimed at reducing anxiety, or is a mix, or combination, of such thoughts and behaviours.

OCD falls under the broad category of anxiety disorders. It includes conditions such as panic disorder, social phobia and post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD].

Symptoms 

  • Repetitive hand-washing and extensive hoarding
  • Preoccupation with sexual, religious, or aggressive impulses
  • Recurrent, unwanted thoughts or rituals, which one cannot control
  • Habitual ritualistic hand-washing, counting, checking, or cleaning [They are often performed in the hope of preventing ‘bad omen,’ or unlucky thoughts, or making them go away].

The point also is performing ‘such’ rituals, however, provides temporary relief. Not going through such rituals may, likewise, tend to markedly increase the anxiety.

These ‘disturbing’ thoughts, or ‘images’ are, therefore, aptly called obsessions; the rituals performed to try to prevent, or dispel, them are called compulsions.

Many healthy people can identify themselves with having some of the symptoms of OCD, such as checking the stove, heater, or door lock, several times before leaving the house. Be that as it may, the disorder is diagnosed only when such obsessive activities consume at least an hour every day, or are distressing and interfering with daily life.

OCD can occur at any time, from pre-school age to adulthood — most often, around age 20-40.

If it presents in the ‘older’ age group [40+], it may be a ‘spin-off’ of a stressful situation, or emotional trauma, in life.

Multifactorial Illness 

OCD has a variety of factors and combinations — these are often deduced to be responsible for its development.

Research suggests that our genes may play a role in the development of the disorder, although no ‘specific’ gene for OCD has been identified yet.

OCD tends to run in families. When a parent has OCD, there is a somewhat increased possibility that their child may develop OCD, although the risk may be low.

OCD is considered to have both psychological and neurobiological components. Having insufficient levels of serotonin, for example — a neurochemical found in the brain — could be a likely neurobiological factor.

Among the psychological factors, Dr Sigmund Freud’s theory of suppression of mental trauma in the past, or during childhood, is evidenced to be a primary, underlying cause. Sometimes, rigid upbringing and personality may also trigger OCD.

OCD may lead to clinical depression, over a period of time.

Homeopathic Treatment 

Homeopathy helps to correct the individual’s underlying psyche — the likely trigger for OCD.

Homeopathic treatment depends upon the presentation, or manifestation, of symptoms, the personality portrait and other unique characteristics of the individual, or the ‘affected’ person.  

Sepia officinalis, for example, is useful in treating OCD, especially in women, when OCD symptoms aggravate at the time of periods.

Carcinosin is useful when the individual, bogged down by OCD, presents with classical symptoms of an ‘over-obsessed’ perfectionist — with a lurking fear of cancer, or a major illness, upsetting one’s life and existence. 

There are a host of other homeopathic remedies too — but, they are best taken following a full-length consultation with a professional homeopathic physician. Self-treatment is stringently not recommended.

Case Study

Obsessive compulsive disorder [OCD] is one of the most personally distressing, and disabling psychiatric condition. COVID-19 pandemic and countrywide lockdown are likely to exacerbate the symptoms in diagnosed cases of OCD.

Objectives. The primary purpose of this case report is to point out the usefulness of individualised homeopathic medicine in the treatment of OCD. The secondary purpose is to highlight the utility of the similimum — the most appropriate homeopathic remedy suitable to the patient — in the management of exacerbation of psychiatric conditions due to stressful life situations.

Methods. A case of OCD reported in the psychiatry outpatient unit treated by classical homoeopathy is presented in this case report. The case was assessed at baseline and follow-up visits with Yale Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale [Y-BOCS].

Results. Baseline Y-BOCS score of 24 [Severe OCD] turned gradually to subclinical range of seven within six months. The patient had excellent relief for next six months and was functionally well. A comparatively milder exacerbation of symptoms [Y-BOCS-17] during lockdown could be managed effectively with the repetition of the similimum resulting in subclinical score of five quickly within a month.

Conclusion. Homeopathic medicine is useful in the management of OCD and also symptom exacerbation due to stressful life events like lockdown.

  • D Gilla et al, “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Symptom Exacerbation during Covid-19-related Lockdown Managed with Homeopathy: A Case Report,” International Journal of Homoeopathic Sciences 2020; 4[3]: 172-176.
Dr NARAYAN C DESHPANDE, BSc, MD [Hom], is Author & Ambassador, ThinkWellness360. He’s formerly Officiating Professor & HOD, A H Medical College, Bengaluru, Professor Emeritus, and former in-charge Principal, Government Homeopathic Medical College & Hospital, Bengaluru, former PG Guide, Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, Karnataka, former PG Examiner, Mangalore University, MGR University of Health Sciences, Chennai, Health University, Salem, and former Health Expert, Karnataka Public Service Commission, Bengaluru. A recipient of the prestigious Nadaprabhu Kempegowda Award for his 35+ years of commendable service to homeopathic education and alternative healthcare, Dr Deshpande lives in Bengaluru, India.

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