A new and thorough overview of a disturbing behavioural condition that will affect 2.3 per cent of the UK population in their lifetime has been written by University of Sussex researchers.
Psychologists Professor Graham Davey, Dr Suzanne Dash and Dr Frances Meeten have authored Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, one of the latest publications of Palgrave Macmillan's Insights in Psychology series, due to be published on 1 August 2014.
The book explains the symptoms, possible causes and potential cures for the disorder that is characterised by obsessions, which are recurrent and persistent thoughts (such as a fear of germs or contamination), and compulsions, which are repetitive behaviours (such as constant handwashing to rid oneself of germs).
In extreme cases it causes a significant and persistent disruption to the lives of sufferers, affecting their personal relationships and their ability to work or function socially.
Professor Davey, whose research has focused on anxiety disorders, says: "Although most people are familiar with the term obsessive compulsive disorder – or OCD – we still don't know enough about its causes or how to treat it.
"While for some people the condition is mild and treatable – up to 60 per cent of people recover successfully following treatment – for others it becomes a life-long condition and is associated with other psychiatric conditions such as depression, panic and what is known as generalised anxiety disorder."
Professor Davey and his colleagues looked at all the latest literature and studies on OCD, incorporating case studies of patients, to create what the publishers describe as an "accessible introduction" and "engaging reading" for those interested in learning more about OCD.
They write about how it has recently been recognised that OCD behaviour is commonly manifested in childhood, with children for example needing to repeat patterns of words such as the alphabet at bedtime to "prevent bad things happening", or constantly needing everything in their bedroom to be in the "right place".
"This is likely to be a sign that a child is anxious about something," points out Professor Davey."So parents would be advised to try to find out the reason for that anxiety. In most children, these behaviours will not lead to OCD in adulthood, but in some they will."