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Time for a name change?

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I've brought this up before and I still feel as though this is important but just wondered how others feel now.

So OCD is highly stigmatized in a way that prevents people from seeking treatment, affects GPs' and therapists' attitudes towards (and therefore treatment of) OCD and leads to discrimination within workplaces, schools and universities. The label has become synonymous with being clean, tidy and ordered and unless very motivated to find out more about the condition, most people believe that it is a minor personality quirk. All the while OCD is tearing peoples' lives apart, destroying relationships, preventing them from working or achieving their goals and has a huge impact on sufferers' quality of life and sometimes that of their families.  

Bipolar disorder used to be referred to as 'Manic Depression' but the term became highly stigmatized and the name was changed.

Dissociative Identity Disorder used to be referred to as 'Multiple Personality Disorder' but was changed for the same reason. 

Surely it's time for the DSM and ICD or the board of psychiatrists involved in decision making for these diagnostic manuals to change the diagnostic label for OCD too?

It is possible that a change in the term used for OCD could bring about a huge (and immediate) change in attitudes towards the condition.


Edited by BelAnna
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What would you choose as an appropriate term?  I think Obsessive Compulsive Disorder describes accurately what it is but completely understand and agree with your point that the term OCD is looked at as a bit of a quirk  something even to be proud of.  Perhaps it is simply the use of the abbreviation itself and that we should refer to it by the full title.  It probably needs much more media coverage to continue hammering home the ,ess well-known aspects of the disorder.  Even many doctors still think of it as being an issue related largely to cleaning or checking and not the full spectrum

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This subjects popped up a few times over the years, and until the wider public understand the severity of the condition I am not sure a name change would change much, eventually that would be trivialised too.   

15 minutes ago, Caramoole said:

Perhaps it is simply the use of the abbreviation itself and that we should refer to it by the full title.

I think this is a very good point, and something I have tried to do more and more when I write articles is to use the full title more wherever possible to emphasise the word Disorder more, as we have tried with our logo. 

Ultimately my belief it comes do to the how the condition is viewed, not the name.  We have work to do for sure to change the public perception, and controversial but I think we have to start internally within the NHS and also within our own community as we still hear people trying to suggest certain aspects of OCD are worse than other aspects.  We need everybody to understand if somebody is suffering because of OCD they are suffering!

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What would you change it to, @BelAnna ?

Notwithstanding the public's ignorance, I think Obsessive Compulasive Disorder is a useful label that tells you exactly what's in the tin.

You develop an obsession over a thought or feeling, you do compulsive behaviours, the result is disordered mental health.

Change the meaning you give to the thoughts and feelings and they cease to be an obsession. Learn to respond differently (stop the compulsive behaviours) and the disordered mental health returns to a state of normal mental health.

Whatever you change the name to has to be as easy as that to understand, and as descriptive as that in describing the problem you're facing and how to solve it.

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I don’t think the name needs changing. 

I have done my own fair share of being open about the condition  including writing  a feature in the parish magazine. 

The charity works hard to get the message across.

We need more features like that in the media - that would really help.

It does of course do everything Belanna says, but you can't reflect that in a name.

We also need much better knowledge at the sharp end within the GPs. It really wouldn't take much of a training module to get them up to a much better understanding. 

In my work, training  and giving training, was absolutely fundamental. 

There was one especial area that needed to be better known, but wasn't. 

I worked hard to become experienced in it, and I created the training for it for the firm.




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Definitely agree with you on the name change ! ocd  has pretty much and is destroying my life and people  pretty much smirk when you tell them you suffer with ocd !! Like oh that’s not that bad !! 

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USA reclassified it in 2014. DSM-5 moved OCD out from under the Anxiety Disorder section, into a new category: Obsessive Compulsive and Related Disorders and added two new specifiers. Specifically a modification of one specifier (insight) and the addition of a new tic specifier. DSM-5 redefined obsessions and recognizes the importance of avoidance and thought stopping beyond compulsions as other strategies to deal with obsessions. OCD related disorders include: Trichotillomania, Hoarding Disorder, Skin Picking Disorder, and Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

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I also agree that the names of some mental diseases have not been helpful to the individuals suffering and changing them has reflected in a shift to more understanding in society, but with OCD, as has already been said, it's a case of naming or identifying the manifestation of the disorder which is surely as good as it gets and non sufferers/non informed peoples ignorance is not due to the name. However, a very important consideration and good points BelAnna and everyone else.

Edited by bendylouise
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Some are given names that are the symptoms or coping mechanism, not the disorder itself. 

Personalizing your OCD by giving it a name works very good in treatment.This practice of personifying OCD can be a very meaningful experience. It can be cathartic to release these thoughts outside of one’s self – to not own them as one’s own – and it’s a creative way of seeing OCD as something that you experience, not something you are. That’s an important distinction that can prevent you from internalizing the intrusive thoughts that you have and from getting stuck on them. Instead, you can view them as a bystander, seeing that these are thoughts that do not reflect who you are as a human being and what your true character is.

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You want to indicate the seriousness of OCD to the general public many of whom consider OCD to be a ‘minor personality quirk’. 

I would agree that the name transfer from maniac depression to bipolar disorder did reduce stigma. If you define stigma as people being fearful and avoiding people with stigma then OCD does not carry as much stigma as say bipolar or schizophrenia. This is an empirical question about discrimination. For example, do people with OCD have problems accessing employment.

You appear to say that OCD is treated in a non serious way. What would be the point of indicating the seriousness of OCD to the general public? Do you want people to be more sympathetic or have more resources devoted to OCD?

The seriousness of a diagnosis is an empirical fact amenable to evidence.  Bipolar is defined as a serious SMI along with schizophrenia and personality disorders. Serious mental disorders are not treated by IAPT. If we take the diagnosis of schizophrenia as an example people die up to 25 years earlier than average. The highest mortality rate for early death is eating disorders.

I would say that a campaign indicating the seriousness of OCD would have more effect than a name change. The evidence would be the death rate, level of unemployment, days lost in employment. IAPT was introduced as a strategy to reduce the economic costs of depression and anxiety. But would such campaign increase the life chances of those with a diagnosis of OCD?


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Hi All, 

Thanks, there are some really interesting insights here. I will definitely read back through them and reply but my OCD is interfering with my ability to write at the moment 

OCD 1: Belanna 0 🙃


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