Why would a Child Experience OCD Symptoms ?

by | Mar 8, 2022 | Anxiety, Panic Attacks, OCD, Self Esteem | 0 comments

What possibly could be the reason why this child of only seven has a hand-washing obsession because he feels infested with germs ? Has he learned this from one of his parents ? Is this the result of something with his chemistry? Has he experienced abuse of some kind? What could be the trigger that would cause his mind to over-protect?

He is just a child, so what could he be experiencing that would bring on such symptoms ? Well, he was a new client for me and I needed to find the answer.

Well, I knew there was a reason. No one just begins experiencing these symptoms out of the blue, even a child. A little history from the mother indicated that this little guy had some physical developmental delays since birth that were manifested by a lag in language development as well as walking. I considered that this could be an issue, but he was bright and responsive with me at this point. Actually, he appeared quite healthy and normal in development when I saw him, but as I explored issues with this very bright boy, it was obvious he HAD experienced a significant series of blows to his self-esteem as he was both made fun of and realized he was different from the other kids his age during pre-school and K and first grade.

After a few sessions of ”trust building” , he began to share his fears with me. Although he had caught-up and even surpassed many of his peers at this point, the memories and embarrassment were forever implanted in his mind. More than that, being ridiculed by his peers made him ANGRY, so angry that he had thoughts of how he wanted to hurt those kids for the painful things they said to him.

We came to the decision that the guilt over his angry thoughts and feelings stimulated his panic and OCD because the angry thoughts made him feel dirty and bad. That is when the hand-washing started. He felt  “out of control” of his angry thoughts, which caused him to feel unclean and he expected somehow that something bad would happen to him for those thoughts. That is the perfect storm of emotions to lead to an obsession with germs and a hand-washing compulsion.

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist/Emeritus/Coach

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