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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

This paper is a study on one of the most common mental illnesses, obsessive-compulsive disorder, also known as OCD, and one of its most famous fictional sufferers, William Shakespeare's Lady Macbeth, whose compulsive need to wash her hands of an imagined contamination exhibits one of the disorder's best known symptoms. Shakespeare dramatized her story centuries before OCD had been identified as a psychiatric disorder and its origins were understood by the medical community, yet he managed to provide character details that are consistent with the diagnosis of an obsessive-compulsive personality. Though she may possibly have been able to hide her need to wash her hands continually before the traumatic event of her complicity in the murder of the king that brings her bizarre behavior out into the open, this disturbing situation either aggravates the behavior or prevents her from keeping it a secret any longer.

Such a pattern is typical of OCD, as sufferers are often able to conceal the rituals they feel compelled to practice from even their closest family members until trauma bring them out into the open. For Lady Macbeth, ultimate relief comes only in death; suicidal depression often accompanies OCD. However, had she been examined by a 20th century psychiatrist instead of her 11th century physician, her prognosis might have been much less grim. Modern therapies, including drug treatments and psychoanalysis, promise help for the chronic hand washers of today. Lady Macbeth might have been prosecuted for her involvement in King Duncan's death, but she would also have been helped by modern psychiatry.

Although the American Psychiatric Association continues to refine its classification of obsessive-compulsive disorder, psychiatrists generally agree that OCD should be categorized with other anxiety disorders, including agoraphobia (the fear of being in public places), social and simple phobias, panic disorder, and post-traumat...

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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. (1969, December 31). In LotsofEssays.com. Retrieved 15:30, December 06, 2021, from https://www.lotsofessays.com/viewpaper/1708302.html