The thin line between Attention to Detail and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)

OCD (wiki)- Obsessive–compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear or worry (obsessions), repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing the associated anxiety (compulsions), or a combination of such obsessions and compulsions.

ATD – Attention to Detail is really just a quality in a person, wherein he/she has very keen eye for details (physical as well as abstract). OK, I know its a made up acronym, but I had to have something which stands up to the mighty OCD (and sounds cool 😎 )

Disclaimer: I realize OCD is a very serious condition in probably a lot of cases (e.g. Postpartum OCD), But recently I have seen a lot of instances of the word OCD used in a very casual sense. It bothers me so much that it has made me write this post.

I have been alleged to suffer from OCD every now and then, esp. from my Wife. I know she means it in a casual sense (or else she would have got me tested by now 😉 )

Believe me I’ve watched House M.D. long enough to know that I don’t have any, BUT people cannot always be convinced, right 🙄 !!

So, my argument is that most of the time people who appear to have obsessive compulsive tendencies, actually have a great attention to detail. Of course their attention to details might be limited to certain objects or situations. For e.g. I am a programmer and over the years I have developed a keen eye for bugs when I read through a code block.

Also, when it comes to objects of interest like electronic items and their design I am very particular to differentiate between similar looking products. Ranging from design intricacies like the angle of curve of a tablet or even trivial things like the cuts on my apple earphone cable keep me interested (they’re fragile indeed and I need to know if I can patch them before its too late.)

Apart from electronics, everyday things like a detergent mark on the utensils I use are the things I look out for. I am a strong believer of human error and carelessness. I don’t trust anyone, including myself to have cleaned the utensils perfectly all the time. That’s the reason I look out for them. You may call me paranoid, but definitely not OC.

There are cases when people are very particular in the way a thing is done or it is arranged w.r.t. other things. They are hell-bent on following a process. They keep on thinking about it, all the time. They don’t rest until they get it perfect. They are wired like that. You may call them bull-headed or even perfectionists, BUT definitely not OC.

A classis symptom of OCD is people washing their hands often. This symptom can also be argued as the people might have a very keen eye for dirt on their hands; even between the palm lines (which many a people would miss). I know it’s an argument I will lose, but there might be some cases when causes of this event are not psychological.

Well, now you may be thinking that all of my obsession with differentiating OCD and ATD seems a little too far-fetched right. Some of you might even think that this could be a symptom of OCD as well. 🙂

It could be… 🙁 it could be not… 😈

Probably I have greater “attention to details” to be able to distinguish OC from normal behavior.

Until or unless this behavior starts to seriously interfere with my work and relationships, I would definitely not get worked up on this (and neither should You) 🙂