by William Van Ornum, Ph.D. on
Although Monk and Jack Nicholson’s character in As Good as It Gets brought smiles as well as sympathy to those who never heard of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and even a certain peacefulness among OCD sufferers that, finally, their peers might see them not as weird but as true persons, a sad reality remains. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and its religious manifestation, scrupulosity, is one of the most vexing of all problems in our profession. At one end of the spectrum of suffering are individuals that are utterly incapacitated and disabled; at the other are those that experience mild or moderate symptoms, and may even channel these for good and higher uses. Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Alphonsus Liguori were bedeviled by OCD; so was Saint Catherine of Sienna.
Despite a barrage of treatments by psychologists and psychiatrists, the effectiveness of the current therapies in vogue, cognitive behavioral therapy and/or medication, show emerging but overall unsatisfactory efficacy of healing. Best estimates by experts such as Edna Foa indicate that 60-to-80 percent of persons with OCD may be helped by treatment, and among these the improvement rate does not exceed 80 percent; and this is when measured by some very brief surveys and tests. Stating this another way, 20-to-40 percent remain mired in despair, and even those who are helped get somewhat better but are not cured.
Next in Part 2: Abbott Dom John Eudes Bamburger on OCD