OCD and Cleaning / Washing
"Cleanliness is next to Godliness". Many religious ceremonies involve 'holy' water and washing away the
sin, being clean is good and being dirty is bad (our parents tell us) and generations ago character was assessed by
One of the basic human emotions, disgust, reflects a fear of something dirty, something rotten and bad that may contaminate
us and cause illness and disease. We 'wash our hands' of blame, responsibility and the past.
Not only is this cleansing related to the physical but also to what we say. How many mothers in the past have threatened to
wash their children's mouths out with soap and water for saying bad things?
Words for cleanliness and dirt, such as 'pure' and 'tainted' are also used for virtue and sin, and modern society, flooded
in antiseptics and disinfectants, is obsessed with germs.
Being clean and cleanliness lies deep within the human psyche.
Perhaps it's not surprising then
that over 30% of all obsessions in OCD revolve around contamination and about 25% of compulsions and rituals involve
Everyone cleans and washes their person and their belongings regularly for hygiene and safety reasons. Dirty things do
spread illness and disease and keeping things clean can help to prevent this.
In OCD, however, such fears are greatly exaggerated. They are usually based on self-generated inner fears over being
contaminated or contaminating others and no amount of cleaning and washing can remove the underlying fear.
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"a microorganism,esp one that produces disease"
(Collins English Dictionary)
Bacteria are a large group of microscopic living organisms, usually one-celled, that can be found everywhere. They can be dangerous, such
as when they cause infection, or beneficial, as in the process of fermentation (such as in wine) and that of decomposition.
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