Skip main navigation

Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Tineke Oldehinkel explains what compulsion means.
TINEKE OLDEHINKEL: Do you know the situation that you think you locked the door, but are not absolutely sure, so go back to check whether you actually did? We all do that at times, but if you have to check whether the door is locked so often that it’s almost impossible to leave the house, you may have an obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD.
Obsessive compulsive disorders are fairly rare in children. This changes during puberty, and 18 year olds have an equal chance to have OCD as adults. About one out of 30 people suffer from OCD. If you have OCD, you force yourself to do things over and over again, because you have the feeling that something terrible will happen if you don’t. For instance, you may fear that someone you love will get in an accident if you don’t count to 10 every time you enter a room. You probably know that this will not happen for real, but still feel the urge to do something. The things that you make yourself do when you have OCD are called compulsions.
Compulsions can be all sorts of things, for instance, switch the light on and off, wash your hands, check whether the door is closed, put everything on the table in a straight line, count.
What causes an obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD? Just like all other psychological problems, it’s a combination of the kind of person you are and your environment. If you have to live up to very high expectations, you can become so stressed that you develop compulsions. Also, situations that make you feel powerless can lead to OCD, because compulsions can give you a sense of control.

What is obsessive-compulsive disorder? How many people have this? And what is the most typical behaviour? In this video Tineke Oldehinkel deals with these questions.

This article is from the free online

Young People and Mental Health

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education