Lena Dunham and 9 More Stars with OCD

New mother Charlize Theron may have a tougher time than other new moms adjusting to her first child. That’s because she’s admitted to suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD.

“I have OCD, which is not fun,” she told Australian radio show Kyle and Jackie O. “I have to be incredibly tidy and organized or it messes with my mind and switches off on me.”

Babies, especially once they reach toddler-hood, aren’t exactly known for their neatness. The Oscar-winning actress announced that she is the “proud mom of a healthy baby boy named Jackson” in March 2012. This is the first child for the 36-year-old actress who has been single since her split from actor Stuart Townsend in 2010.

For parents with OCD, having children can actually make symptoms worse. “OCD symptoms tend to latch on to things that are most important to us, so parents with OCD may have doubts about their abilities or intrusive thoughts about their child’s safety or hurting their child,” Stephen Whiteside, a psychologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who specializes in anxiety disorders including OCD, told ABCNews.com.

OCD is an anxiety disorder that at its basic level is a fear of one’s thoughts, whether it’s a fear of messiness, germs or something else. To relieve the anxiety associated with such intrusive thoughts, an obsessive-compulsive will feel compelled to behave in a certain way, such as cleaning out their cabinets before going to sleep or checking and rechecking their child.

Whiteside has heard anecdotes of OCD patients actually improving once they became parents. “It’s certainly possible that when you have something that is of greater concern to you — you’re not just taking care of yourself but a baby — those emotions can overwhelm the OCD and motivate you to do the things to get better. The best treatment is exposure or facing your fears,” Whiteside said.

That’s what happened to Julianne Moore, who scrapped her daily routine of leaving her apartment at exactly the same time and pacing her walk so that she only got green lights, after having children Caleb and Liv. “Having two young children means you drop all that sort of rubbish!” Moore told UK’s Guardian.

Moore admitted she’s still “fanatical about straightening furniture and lining stuff up, but I’m much more laid back than I used to be!”

Theron also struggles when things are out of order. “I have a problem with cabinets being messy and people just shoving things in and closing the door. I will lie in bed and not be able to sleep because I’ll say to myself: ‘I think I saw something in that cabinet that just shouldn’t be there,'” she was quoted saying in London’s Daily Mail.

Comparing herself to the character she played in “Young Adult,” she told the Australian radio show, “I am not dirty at all, I’m actually the opposite.”

Whiteside’s advice to her and other new parents with OCD: “Try to put things in perspective, reminding yourself that you’re going to do a much better job as a parent if you leave things messy and spend time with your child than being perfect.”

He said, “It might be uncomfortable at first, but the feeling gradually goes away, and it should get easier.”

Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners

Michele, who spends 60 hours a week cleaning at home (using bleach on her
floors five times a day and even washing tins when they come new from the
supermarket), helped someone else called Richard to clean his bedsit,
untouched by him for four years during a spell of depression.

“I still couldn’t have a tea or coffee here,” she said after relentless
scrubbing. “I must have an illness. But what can you do?”

What you can do is see a doctor, if you can get an appointment. What you can
do if someone in your family has OCD is not just to stand there and buy them
extra bleach, for use in their unending rituals under the lash of crushing
fear. What you can do is to find out the effects of OCD on people, and not
to indulge in a television fantasy that puts them on a level with dancing

This degree of unreality has crept up on us. In 1999, the documentary A Life
of Grime, narrated by John Peel, focused on Edmund Trebus, an obsessive
hoarder. There was some depth, some nuance. The old man had seen things in
Poland under the Nazis; he had become isolated from his family. By last
year, Britain’s Biggest Hoarders was sending a weekly conveyor belt of
specimens past the television camera. They have been joined by embarrassing
bodies, undateables, Touretters, pseudo-Touretters, Britain’s fattest
teenagers, and all the fun of Bartholomew Fair.

Mindless rubbish has its place in the schedules, but I can’t lighten up or
chillax in the face of this gruesome farrago. Voluntarily watching Obsessive
Compulsive Cleaners is a hate crime if there ever was one, and I wish doing
so attracted stern penalties.

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On The Cover: Lena Dunham Tells All

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lena dunham cover 1177

Lena Dunham, the creator and star of HBO’s Girls, has made the cover of Rolling Stone. In our new issue on stands and on iTunes Friday, February 15th, Dunham tells senior writer Brian Hiatt about her lifelong struggles with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder, her childhood fear of sex, her reaction to criticisms about the show’s lack of diversity – and much more. “It’s funny to me that I’m writing a show that people consider to be the voice of twentysomething people,” she says. “Because I don’t feel that connected to it all the time.”

Stay tuned for more from the cover story.

District 200, Alexian Brothers Partner to Show Free Screening of ‘Race to Nowhere’

Community Unit School District 200 has partnered with Alexian Brothers Parish Services to present a free screening of Race to Nowherean up-close look at America’s culture and the pressures facing today’s students at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 25, at Hubble Middle School.

The documentary was produced and co-directed by Vicki Abeles, a concerned mother who reveals the truth behind the nation’s achievement-infatuated societal effect on school-age children, according to a press release for the event.

“Students are burdened with the demand to become high achievers who excel in academics, extracurricular activities and community service, leaving little time for themselves or their families,” Abeles said in a statement.

A panel discussion will follow the screening, featuring Trevor Simpson of Alexian Brothers Parish Services as the moderator and Patrick B. McGrath, Ph.D., Director, Alexian Brothers Center for Anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorders; Bob Murray, Dean of Enrollment Management, Illinois Wesleyan University; Julann Ferguson, Guidance Counselor, Wheaton Warrenville South High School; and Sheila Thorse, Seventh Grade Counselor, Hubble Middle School.

A limited number of advance tickets are available at http://rtnhubblemiddleschool.eventbrite.com.

Report: Royce White Will Join Rockets’ D-League Affiliate

It appears as if Houston Rockets forward Royce White has finally taken the first step toward beginning his NBA career.

According to the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen, the controversial forward passed a physical on Friday and will report to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Rockets’ Developmental League affiliate, on Monday:

Rockets rookie Royce White moved a step closer to reporting Monday to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA Development League by passing a physical Friday, athletic trainer Keith Jones said.

White is expected to be in uniform for the Vipers for their games on Tuesday and Wednesday, marking the end of a long, ugly dispute between the rookie and Houston.

Though White is largely viewed as having immense talent, the Rockets drafted him with knowledge of preexisting anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorders. He has a fear of flying on airplanes and has been taking anxiety medication since he was a teenager. 


Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

It has been those disorders—more specifically, White and the Rockets’ disagreement on how to treat them—that have halted his NBA career. White missed the opening of training camp while the two sides hammered out how he would travel. While that issue ultimately was resolved, the tension lingered.

The 21-year-old forward eventually left the team again in November due to the Rockets’ “inconsistent” treatment of his anxiety disorder. Houston’s frustration eventually bubbled up, leading to a suspension, but the two sides have finally come to what seems like an amenable middle ground. 

Taken No. 16 overall in last June’s draft, White was looked at by many as yet another steal for general manager Daryl Morey. A point forward with innate court vision, slick handles and elite strength, he led Iowa State in all five major statistical categories last season en route to a second-round NCAA tournament appearance.

That’s the type of franchise-altering talent the Rockets were hoping for when they took him in the first round. Instead, they’ve gotten little more than constant headaches.

With White’s playing days finally on the horizon, Houston undoubtedly hopes for more of the former than the latter going forward.


Bell Let’s Talk Day features all-day programming Feb. 12

TORONTO – Bell Media is featuring a full day of non-stop programming designed to break the silence and stigma surrounding mental health to mark Bell Let’s Talk Day on Tuesday, Feb. 12.

From news and sports to business and lifestyle, Bell says all areas of the company are engaged to deliver a programming slate that elevates the important conversation about mental health. Anchored by the prime-time special premiere of Let’s Talk: A Marilyn Denis Special at 7 p.m. ET on CTV, Bell Media announced today details of feature programming in support of the third annual Bell Let’s Talk Day on CTV, CTV Two, CP24, BNN, CTV News Channel, MuchMusic, MTV, Discovery, E!, SPACE, TSN, RDS, TheLoop.ca and its digital, local radio, and TV properties.

Throughout the day, various Bell Media properties will feature regular updates on-screen of text, Twitter and long distance call activity, representing both the spreading conversation, and the additional funds to be dedicated to mental health by Bell.

“We’re proud to play a part in keeping the conversation going about mental health,” said Kevin Crull, President, Bell Media. “Our audiences have told us how much they appreciate this programming, so this year we’ve dedicated dozens of hours of new original programming and related coverage across all platforms in support of this year’s Bell Let’s Talk Day.”

Clara Hughes, Serena Ryder, Dr. Marla Shapiro, and new national ambassador for Bell Let’s Talk Day, Seamus O’Regan, are some of the personalities on tap to support Bell Media’s day of special programming. Bell Media also enlists the help of many mental health experts specializing in eating disorders, anxiety issues, and various therapies that can change and save lives.

Canada AM gets the conversation going at the top of the morning with a discussion on mental health in the workplace, BNN explains why investing in the brain can pay big dividends, Daily Planet takes a look at Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and the use of meditation in place of medication, and TSN presents the new documentary Talk To Me. Marilyn Denis is dedicating her first CTV prime-time broadcast to raising awareness for mental health in the day’s flagship program Let’s Talk: A Marilyn Denis Special, featuring Canadian Olympic Champion Clara Hughes and Dr. Marla Shapiro sharing their personal connections to mental illness. The special also highlights conversations with other real people sharing their stories about living with mental illness and how to treat it. 

Additionally, local CTV television stations and Bell Media radio outlets from coast-to-coast will engage their communities in the conversation by featuring local mental health experts and shedding light on community initiatives supporting those suffering from mental illness.

William Smith By the numbers

One, two, three, four. Oh, don’t mind me; go on with your reading. I was just counting the words as I type. Let’s continue. Twenty-five, twenty-six.

Several years ago I mentioned to a friend my ability to memorize music albums and play back the songs in my head in order. To which I was told, “Yes, a lot of people with OCD have that ability.” A sudden awareness I’d not had before struck me. “I have OCD?”

That night I researched this condition (long name: obsessive-compulsive disorder) and found a definition similar to this one: “an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviors that make them feel driven to do something (compulsions). Often the person carries out the behaviors to get rid of the obsessive thoughts, but this provides only temporary relief. Not performing the obsessive rituals can cause great anxiety.” Bingo! Well, that was a relief. I had always thought I was crazy.

For as long as I can remember, going back to age 5, I have needed to count things, such as the number of seconds it took to brush my teeth, to walk across a room, the number of footsteps on the half-mile walk to school, and so on. I feel the compulsive need to close drawers that have been left even slightly ajar by members of my family (I always fully close them). And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Obsessions I’ve had range from the slightly odd to some very irrational, unwelcome thoughts that are almost terrifying. I have read that many people report having obsessions that are quite violent. A common trait in a person with OCD is that the thoughts are difficult to manage, but the actions are, with minor effort, completely controllable.

As a young child with no frame of reference, I simply thought that everyone was this way. The condition is not all that difficult; it just gets in the way. For example, there is a song playing in my head every moment, from the time I awaken until I fall asleep. It works pretty well if it is a piece that I enjoy; otherwise, the only way to get it out is to replace it. Once “Funky Town” tortured me for an hour when I was struggling to debug some nasty piece of software at work. There is always someone inside my cranium with a boom box — I have no quiet time. Sometimes I long for a complete silence that I will never have.

I don’t care for loose ends and want everything to be in a neat and tidy state. I lose sleep over lost friendships, disagreements that were never dealt with or left uncorrected, and unfinished tasks that await me at work. I suspect that this is not a learned behavior, but is inherited. My father exhibited numerous OCD characteristics, and I have observed them in one of my daughters. The National Institutes of Health says there are about 2 million of us in the United States, which is about one in 100 people. Other websites claim more than that.

A short while ago I made the choice to enjoy my OCD. I now call it “obsessive-compulsive delight.” Sometimes it drives my wife crazy, so it can’t be all bad. Additionally, the abbreviation is all wrong — it should be CDO. That places the letters in the proper order, as they should be.

Five-hundred-eighty-two, five-hundred-eighty-three …

William Smith lives in Frederick with his wife, two children, and cat, all of whom are smarter than he. When he grows up he hopes to retire and ride his bicycle full time. smithiums@hotmail.com

Son`s birth helped Megan Fox get over obsessive compulsive disorder

Son`s birth helped Megan Fox get over obsessive compulsive disorderLos Angeles: Actress Megan Fox says after giving birth to son Noah last year, she has noticed improvement in her obsessive compulsive disorder.
Fox had opened up about the disorder in 2010 and how it did not allow her to eat outside because she feared germs and worried too much about hygiene.

However, the situation has changed ever since her son with husband Brian Austin Green came in her life.

“I think Brian was waiting to see what I would do during the birth, because, you know, when they come out they are covered in all kinds of stuff. I took him right on my chest and, from that moment, nothing he does freaks me out,” Marie Claire magazine quoted Fox as saying.

“I don`t want to give him a complex. (The anxiety) has been significantly better since he was born. I would say, like, 80 percent better. Which is nice,” she added.


Megan Fox (Reuters file photo)

Actress Megan Fox has overcome her battle with obsessive-compulsive disorder after giving birth to her son last year.

The Jennifer’s Body star opened up about her issues in 2010, and admitted she was so terrified of germs that she couldn’t bear to eat out at restaurants.

But after the arrival of her firstborn Noah, the star reveals her anxieties about bacteria have eased up.

She tells Britain’s Marie Claire magazine, “I think (husband) Brian (Austin Green) was waiting to see what I would do (during the birth), because, you know, when they come out they are covered in all kinds of stuff. I took him right on my chest and, from that moment, nothing he does freaks me out. I don’t want to give him a complex. (The anxiety) has been significantly better since he was born. I would say, like, 80 per cent better. Which is nice.”

Monday, February 4, 2013


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Troubled Paul Gascoigne’s life in danger: agent

Paul Gascoigne’s life may be in danger, the troubled England football hero’s agent said.

Terry Baker told BBC radio that the former Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Lazio and Rangers star, who has battled alcoholism and depression for many years, “immediately needs to get some help”.

He spoke as shocking pictures of the 45-year-old, looking bloated and dishevelled, appeared in the Sunday Mirror newspaper.

“I heard from Paul this evening and my best assessment would be — and I’ve told him this — he immediately needs to get some help,” said Baker.

The agent said Gascoigne had seemed “fairly incoherent” when they spoke on Saturday evening.

“Maybe no one can save him,” he added. “His life’s always in danger because he is an alcoholic, as he says.”

Baker said his client drunk before a charity event last Thursday and had insisted on appearing on stage, against his advice. Gascoigne had to be led from the stage “shaking uncontrollably”, Baker said.

Appealing directly to the former star, Baker said: “Paul, listen to me because you know I’ve got your best interests at heart — you must do what you know you must do.”

Known to fans as “Gazza,” Gascoigne made 57 appearances for England and is considered one of the most talented English players ever.

He is best known for his exploits at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, where he helped England reach the semi-finals.

But he has struggled with addiction and depression since retiring in 2004 and has spent time in rehabilitation clinics, as well as undergoing treatment for bulimia and obsessive compulsive disorder.

He was detained twice under the Mental Health Act in 2008.

The former star was given a suspended prison sentence in 2010 after admitting drink-driving, while a separate charge of drink-driving was dropped in 2011.

He has also been involved in a much-publicised row with his ex-wife.

Baker said Gascoigne had been in a fragile mental state in recent days, after a friend “died while they were holding his hand”.

“It’s haunting him,” Baker told the BBC.

He described Gascoigne as “the nicest, most generous, lovely person”.

“All he does is give to other people,” he added. “He’s really funny. Despite what people think, he’s quick-witted. But at the moment he’s not very well.”

Super Bowl fan rituals: superstition or OCD?

In the movie “Silver Linings Playbook,” Robert De Niro is a Philadelphia Eagles superfan whose love for his home team translates to some odd outward behavior: During the game, he positions the TV remotes just so, he manhandles an Eagles handkerchief, and, most importantly, he needs to have his son (played by Bradley Cooper), at his side.

The movie, which received eight Oscar nods for its story of the many shades of mental illness, seems to want you to wonder: When do sports superstitions veer into obsessive-compulsive disorder? The line is blurrier than you might imagine, some clinical psychologists say, and it’s getting especially blurry this week in the homes of San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens fans, as they look forward to Super Bowl Sunday.

On Thursday, 49ers fan Steve Bowen (named for Niners legend Steve Young) began the four-day ritual he follows leading up to every Niners game by wearing his favorite team hat all day. On Friday he’ll wear the 49ers hat with a red shirt he’s owned for years. “The day after that, same hat, different Niners shirt. Day of the game, the hat and the same red shirt underneath [my jersey],” Bowen says.

The rules, as any good superstitious sports fan knows, are these: “You have to start at the beginning of the season and you can’t change it up over the season,” explains Bowen, a 24-year-old University of Utah student. “If you change ‘em up over the season, your team will lose.” As the Bud Light ad says, “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work.”

OCD, of course, can be a serious, potentially debilitating anxiety disorder, and we don’t mean to take it lightly. But specifically, there are some parallels between sports superstitions and an aspect of OCD psychologists call “hyper-responsibility obsessions.”

Jeff Szymanski, a clinical psychologist in Boston and the executive director of the International OCD Foundation, gives the example that a person with OCD may walk down the street and see a piece of broken glass. “And it occurs to me, ‘Oh, someone might get injured. Then it occurs to me, because I have OCD, ‘If I don’t pick it up, then I might have caused that injury.’”

For superstitious sports fans, “the process, I think, is similar: ‘If I don’t do this, then I’m responsible for a bad outcome,” Szymanski says.

Even the most superstitious of fans are aware that they’re being ridiculous — but, still, they keep up the ritual, just in case. Niners fan Daisy Barringer wears a cheap, woven bracelet that says “49ers,” a trinket from a friend’s trip to Mexico.

Daisy Barringer

Daisy Barringer’s lucky 49ers bracelet.

“This year, I’ve worn the bracelet nonstop. I haven’t taken it off the whole season,” says Barringer, who is 35 and lives in San Francisco, where she works as a freelance writer. While snowboarding a couple of weeks ago, she fell and hurt her arm. In the ER, she refused to take the bracelet off for the X-rays (“This was after they won the championship game!”) — and the doctor, a 49ers fan himself, understood and acquiesced. (Luckily, it was just a sprain.)

“I need to do everything I can to support them and not jinx them in any way, shape or form,” Barringer says. “Because even though I know, rationally, I can’t affect the outcome, there’s this little thing in me that’s like, ‘What if?’”

Besides the bracelet, Barringer has accumulated tons of Niners stuff over the years — maybe too much, because she says she doesn’t have a good idea of what’s lucky and what isn’t. “So I decided next year I’m going — this is going to make me sound like a lunatic — I’m going to keep a spreadsheet of what I wear,” Barringer says. “I want to start keeping track so I know what my lucky shirt is and what my unlucky shirt is.”

And we’ll just leave this point here: Bowen, Barringer, and Craig Notarange of Orlando, Fla. (a superstitious Ravens superfan who believes if he sits down during a Ravens game, the team will start losing) all reiterate the same point: They know it’s irrational, they say, therefore, their behaviors could not be symptoms of OCD. But here’s a line from the National Institute of Health’s definition of OCD: “The person usually recognizes that the behavior is excessive or unreasonable.” (You do with that what you will.)

But here’s where superstitions and OCD start to diverge: For a person with OCD, the imagined stakes are much more dire than the question of who will win a football game (even if that football game is the Super Bowl). 

“When you think about sports, I’m doing something for a hobby. It’s something that’s fun. Even if I feel like it’s kind of stressing me out, it’s all in the service of entertainment,” Szymanski says. “And that’s where it parts company from OCD. After the game’s over, preoccupation with superstition dies away. It isn’t preventing them from getting to work, it isn’t preventing them from having relationships with their spouse or kids.”

Jojo Whilden / AP file

Jacki Weaver, left, and Robert De Niro in “Silver Linings Playbook.”

And that’s part of the definition of any mental illness, in general: Is the behavior interfering with your life?

In the case of De Niro’s “Playbook” character, at least, the answer to that might be yes. Minor spoilers to follow, but in the movie, the De Niro character bets big money, which the family couldn’t afford to lose, on the Eagles. “It wasn’t like, ha-ha, here’s 10 bucks. He was doing really big economic things that were affecting the family based on these obsessions — and the betting was the compulsion,” says Gail Saltz, a New York City psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who’s also a frequent TODAY contributor.

Bowen, on the other hand, agreed to attend his girlfriend’s Christmas party, even though it was during a 49ers playoff game. “Do I feel anxiety or do I feel uncomfortable by not watching the game? No. I had a great time at the party,” Bowen says. He adds, “Except I did wear my jersey underneath the shirt I wore to the Christmas party.”

When Super Bowl Superstitions Cross Over Into Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

PHOTO: Athletic fans with obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, often associate certain colors and numbers with bad luck and must perform rituals to avoid negative outcomes.

As football fans don their unwashed jerseys, sit in their favorite couch seats or line up their remote controls like Robert De Niro’s character in “Silver Linings Playbook,” many might wonder whether their Super Bowl superstitions might be crossing over into something more serious — such as obsessive compulsive disorder.

People with obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, often associate certain colors and numbers with bad luck, just like people who don’t have OCD, but there are a few critical differences: When OCD patients see these colors or numbers — or have other intrusive thoughts — they feel they must perform rituals to avoid catastrophic outcomes, said Jeff Szymanski, clinical psychologist and executive director of the International OCD Foundation.

“OCD gets in your head and says, ‘Look, this is going to happen if you don’t act,'” said Shannon Shy, who lived with severe OCD for years until he found a way to manage it. “It’s as real to you as the sun rising.”

Click Here for More Coverage on Super Bowl XLVII

PHOTO: Athletic fans with obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, often associate certain colors and numbers with bad luck and must perform rituals to avoid negative outcomes.

PHOTO: Athletic fans with obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, often associate certain colors and numbers with bad luck and must perform rituals to avoid negative outcomes.

Shy, who is on the International OCD Foundation’s board, remembers how he would have to drive past the same log in the road 20 or 30 times to be sure it wasn’t a dead body. That was at the height of his disorder, when he hid the problem from the world and contemplated suicide.

“You decide, ‘How do I want to spend my day?’ but someone with OCD and superstitions doesn’t do that,” Szymanski said. “It’s distressing. It’s a have to, not an I prefer to.”

People with OCD — more than 2 million adults nationwide —
experience intrusive thoughts — obsessions — which can include fear of harm, contamination or losing control. To get rid of these thoughts, they perform rituals — compulsions — such as checking their stoves or washing their hands. Even praying can be a compulsion.

Join the ABC News Tweet Chat About OCD Today at 1 p.m. ET

In “Silver Linings Playbook,” the filmmakers showed De Niro’s character positioning remote controls just so and asking his son Pat (played by Bradley Cooper) to sit in a specific spot on the couch during Eagles games for good luck. Neither of these behaviors necessarily signaled OCD, Szymanski said. But the anxiety De Niro’s character displayed when he argued with his son for not sitting in the seat sounded to Szymanski like OCD.

OCD differs from putting on socks in a particular order to win a game, said Dr. Todd Peters, a psychiatrist at Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital in Tennessee

“That’s not really going to get in the way of life,” Peters said, adding that, in contrast, the person who anxiously has to repeat everything he did the day his team won probably has a problem. “Because life is ever-changing, they can’t expect other people to buy into their ritual or compulsion. … People get so stuck in their minds that they can’t get off that topic.”

Peters said people with OCD get “stuck” trying to rid themselves of anxious feelings through certain behaviors. Some of the behaviors are fairly logical, such as compulsive hand-washing to avoid germ contamination, but others are bizarre, such as needing to see a certain animal run to the right to keep a family member from dying. He’s seen patients exhibit both.