Is OCD Related to Mental Retardation?

Reader’s Question

My friend was saying to me that OCD is a mental retardation and I don’t think it is; but I’m not completely sure. So can you tell me if it is, and if it isn’t then what is it considered as? Thanks,

Psychologist’s Reply

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is not related to mental retardation in any manner. OCD is an anxiety disorder in which the individual has obsessions (constant thoughts, worries, images, impulses, etc.) and compulsions (repetitive behaviors like handwashing, counting, organizing, checking, repeating words or small behaviors, etc.). The individual often knows the OCD behaviors are unreasonable or excessive (handwashing), but they become severely distressed if the OCD symptoms are not completed.

Psychiatry also has a condition known as Obsessive-Compulsive Personality (OCP). Individuals with OCP are preoccupied with being orderly, perfectionistic, tidy, and under control. In the community, these are often the “neat freaks” who live very orderly and predictable lives and have homes that are very neat, tidy, and clean. They are very concerned about following rules, doing things the right way, and being on time. Their homes often look like a furniture store display with everything in a specific place. The behavior of the OC Personality individual makes sense and is purposeful, although a bit extreme for the rest of us. The OC Disorder individuals have unrealistic behaviors that have no real purpose and can become so severe that the individual can’t work or relate to others.

OC Personalities are found in all type of work and social settings. Many are highly intelligent and tend to work in professions that emphasize small details and perfection such as computer programming or engineering. If I’m having a surgery, I’d like the surgeon to be OC Personality. The surgery will take a bit longer but it will be done “by the book” and I’m less likely to wake up with a sponge, clip, or inkpen in my abdomen. Hope this makes Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Personality easier to understand.

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