An obsession to literally overuse soap has cost a Bengaluru IT professional a lot. A divorce, loss of social life and skin conditions are just a few of the side effects he has faced.
For someone who is suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), the obsession is such that it cannot be stopped. Hasan (name changed) a Bengaluru-based middle-aged man could not stop himself from bathing so much that his family had to take him to a psychiatrist.
His daily expenses included using three full soap bars a day, no less than a dozen plastic bags and large quantities of water. All this was done to keep up a 10-hour bathing schedule in one day.
A pale man with evidently dry skin with deposits under his nails and residue in the hair – this is how he looked when he first entered the clinic.
Dr Satish Ramaiah, senior psychiatrist at People Tree Hospital, Yeshwanthpur, spoke about the case. “His day would begin and end with bathing,” Ramaiah said. “He spent no less than 10 hours a day in the bathroom. He did all this out of a fear that he would contact infections if that kind of hygiene was not maintained.”
Hasan’s day would begin at 3 am. “He would hit the bathroom that early in the morning and start bathing. It took him three full soap bars. He would be out only post 6 am, get ready for office and leave .”
This was not it. A minimum of four hours would be reserved in the evening for bathing again.
“When he came to me, he explained that he used several plastic covers in the process. He would use these as gloves in the bathroom. One set to open the door, another to handle soap, another for the shower and a few for operating taps,” said Dr Ramaiah. Although this provided Hasan temporary relief, it would not last long. Only at work did he feel distracted from the problem.
His problems grew worse when his wife tried to help him but failed. “His mother got him to the hospital. She was depressed looking at the condition of her son. The patient did not have a father. His bathing ritual was such a compulsive act that he eventually had to face a divorce. His mother told me that his wife had tried to help him get out of it but had failed,” said the doctor.
With stress, his condition had worsened, after which the psychiatrist was consulted. It was a habit that persisted for seven months before the family had realised that he needed support.
“He came to me until recently. He required to be put on medication and also cognitive-behavioural therapy,” said Ramaiah, stating that OCD was a manifestation of one of the forms of an anxiety disorder and could worsen with stress. “In his case, there were also financial constraints as he was the breadwinner after losing his dad at an early age. He also had taken loans for studies,” said Ramaiah.
Ramaiah said that he sees three to four cases of OCD in a week. However, none of the cases were as severe as Hasan.