Cleanliness OCD manifests itself in the form of intrusive thoughts related to contamination by filth and microbes. When afflicted by this type of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, it is common for patients to act compulsively about the cleaning of surfaces, objects, parts of their house, or their own bodies (personal hygiene). Soap-washing one’s hands time and time again is found among the most frequent compulsive acts in these cases. Soap-related allergies can at times be developed from the excessive use of these products. These patients have an unstoppable urge of washing their hands, taking showers or washing their hairs; else, they obsess over the recurrent cleaning of surfaces, objects, etc.
Families can be greatly affected by this particular kind of OCD, which is among those hardest to cure.
On occasions, individuals may come to establish a clear parameter for identifying surfaces that can be contagious/contaminating, and those that are not. Hence, sufferers of this particular kind of OCD avoid coming in contact with objects or surfaces that they consider harmful, and they often have common ground, such as texture, material-build, color, or simply the type of use of that particular object. Some other times there is no common pattern, and it becomes cryptical and mysterious (whims of fate, we could say) as to why some objects or surfaces are attributed with this “contamination” quality by the patient, while others are not…
Now, in many cases, even sentimental relationships can become crippled and menaced by this kind of OCD. Many people will not allow their couple to touch their hair or skin of their hands have come into contact with surfaces touched by too many people (elevator buttons, subway doors or handles, money, among other items). At times, they even will not get a hug from their partner unless he or she has changed clothes (from work or outdoors), or they may establish strict hygiene rules that their couple fails to comprehend, among many possible examples. This is precisely what is needed of the person that dates or marries a sufferer of cleanliness & purification Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; it is of paramount importance that they make an effort to try to be comprehensive towards the sufferer, to understand and respect the limitations or rules that their loved one may put forth. Otherwise, the continuity of the relationship can become imperiled, for it may be deeply harmed and fatally wounded by arguments, blaming or trying to convince the OCD sufferer with the futility and lack of sense of their deeds and parameters.
More often than not, it all may be ill-nurtured by irrational and subconscious fears (originated in childhood traumas) of things that the person may associate to illnesses, disease, death, or
repulse. Let us dig deeper into some examples…
Let us imagine a child that pays no heed to to his or her parents when told he must wash his/her hands before sitting at the table. Then, the parents come up with an ingenious solution: they tell the boy or girl a made-up story to frighten him/her, and thus achieve him/her washing his/her hands…
Now, let’s imagine the story in question is about the aunt of the child’s mother, who died from a rare sickness contracted because of not washing her hands before a meal.
Subconsciously, the child becomes very scared because they never imagined that not washing their hands could have such catastrophic consequences. Thus the child, heavily impacted by this story, comes to associate washing their hands with survival, and the absence of hygiene with a risk of death!
A small boy or girl tends to have a limited capacity when it comes to comprehending reality, and as such may be traumatized by such a story, which at that precise time in life produces great fear within him or her. A small child barely knows that there are many types of diseases, and that most of them are not contagious. He or she may fail to understand that each contagious disease is transmitted in distinct and set ways, so such fears may easily become engraved in his or her subconscious mind, and go with them during all of their lives.