Monday, April 12, 2010

Athletes and OCD

This article talks about how athletes can be prone to severe cases OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). It begins specifically talking about Kelly MacDonald, an Olympic diver. She had her same rituals on the diving board before she would dive, but one time she was unable to calm herself down. She had to see a specialist at a psychiatric clinic. A lot of athletes are very superstitious. Their rituals are to give them good luck or help control anxiety, but in some cases it can have a negative effect on them.
A lot of athletes rituals can be seen if you follow them. For instance, I am a big Yankee fan and can notice many of the athletes rituals. A lot of the players do the same things everytime they go up to bat, such as looking up at the sky before every pitch, praying before they bat, pointing up at the sky when they get on base and many other things. Also, my father used to work for the Yankees and would tell me a lot of the players would do the same rituals in the dug out before the game started. He also told me that one of the players in particular would freak out if anyone touched his bat before the game. Though this is the only sport I follow, I am sure rituals can be noticed from players of any sports team.
Although OCD is big in athletes, I have known many other people that suffer from it as well. My friend had another kind of OCD that took over his life. He would have to wash his hands the same number of times, and if he messed up he would have to start again. He would have to lock and unlock the door multiple times before he left the house. While suffering from this, he also developed a severe phobia of germs which added to his OCD.

1 comment:

Swe said...

I remember the first time I came across the topic of OCD: I was watching Monk- a show about a detective with OCD- counting his food because he could only eat in even number or obsessively cleaning his house- even boiling water to clean his toothbrush. So I associated obsessive cleanliness or orderliness (or these "rituals" to be OCD, as do many other people who can be heard using OCD as an adjective for their meticulous behavior. While some researchers claim that many people cold have some mild form of OCD, I think it's important to distinguish obsessive behavioral traits and the disorder itself. While such behavior that negatively impacts a lifestyle is no doubt a disorder, I don't think everyone that has rituals has OCD- just as not everyone with a short attention span has ADHD.
What's curious though is what begets this behavioral pattern. Does our brain control us, or are these compulsions some sort of defense mechanisms that we create for ourselves?