This mental health problem is typified by the patient who washes his or her hands all the time or is constantly checking to be sure the doors are locked. Although many adults are aware their repetitive and pointless actions are a mental defect they cannot control, children may genuinely believe the repetitive actions are necessary. Usually the repetitive acts are thought by the patient to protect against some stressful threat, but the actions may either not logically be associated with the threat or do not require the constant repetition to be effective (you can’t lock a locked door a second time). If the actions are related to a real-life stressful event – checking for locked doors because of a recent burglary, for example – the symptoms may be more reflective of anxiety disorder and may disappear after a relatively brief period.
[Source note: These are summaries prepared by the Webmaster from various materials, the most important of which are the DSM IV (4th ed.), published by the American Psychiatric Association, and Bright Futures in Mental Health, a joint publication of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Maternal and Child Health Bureau and the National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health at Georgetown University. Editorial comment is by the Webmaster.]
DISCLAIMER: Unless otherwise indicated, all commentary and
information on this web site is provided by persons who have no
formal training in medicine or mental health. You should weigh the
information and comment on this site in consultation with a mental