I was surprised to learn that obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is the fourth most common mental illness in our country and the tenth highest cause of disability in the world. Furthermore, a likelihood exists of co-morbid conditions of depression and other anxiety disorders. What I found particularly interesting was that this co-morbidity suggests a malfunction, of sorts, in the serotonin system in the brain. This may be why the SSRI's work for both disorders (Stone, 2011).
Peterson, Pind, Cohen, & Brook (2001) found a higher prevalence of the disorder in individuals with a higher IQ, and in more developed countries such as ours, wherein younger children seem more affected with this disorder, perhaps because of the expectation of competence at earlier ages.
The final piece of information that I found intriguing is the cultural aspects of all mental illness, but specifically this one. Okasha et al. (1994) found compulsive cleansing and religious rituals prevalent in the Egyptian Muslim population. And Pallanti, (2008) describes the word weswas used in the Muslim culture to mean both devil and obsession.
I found it striking there is such a prevalence of the disorder, but also how important it is to understand the environment from which the client takes her cues, whether we are referring to the cultural environment, the familial one, or both.
Okasha A, Saad A, Khalil A. H., El Dawla A.S., Yehia N. (1994). Phenomenology of obsessive-compulsive disorder: a transcultural study. Comprehensive Psychiatry 35, 191–197.
Pallanti, S. (2008). Transcultural observations of obsessive-compulsive disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 165(2), 169-170. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2007.07111815
Peterson, B. S., Pine, D. S., Cohen, P., & Brook, J. S. (2001). Prospective, longitudinal study of tic, obsessive-compulsive, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders in an epidemiological sample. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 40(6), 685-695. doi: 10.1097/00004583-200106000-00014