I grew up in a chaotic environment, to say the least. One of the only means of stability I had was controlling how clean and organized my room was. It was an oasis of cleanliness in the middle of a desert of dysfunction. However, there was a dark side to it. Everything had to be precisely centered, stacked, arranged, and aligned, or I would become angry and agitated. I did not develop this form of OCD until I was about 13 or 14 years old. Once it set in, it was there to stay, it seemed.
It got to the point where the couple of friends that I had left, and my brothers, did not even want to come into my room. My alleged best friend used to move my CDs ever so slightly, and the difference in their position was so minute, that a seasoned investigator probably would not have noticed the discrepancy, but I would. When that happened, I would have to immediately straighten them out and re-align them, and then would proceed to tell my friend what a jerk he was. He thought it was funny, I felt like the order of the universe had been tampered with.
Growing out of it
I joined the Marine Corps at 18, and at last, my propensity for order, cleanliness, and structure was appreciated and rewarded. Then, something strange happened. After years of strict tidiness, I decided that I did not want to be that structured anymore. As an adult, I am still a clean and organized individual, and I still clean when I get nervous, but I can now leave some dirty dishes in the sink without it being a big deal. I can leave my bed unmade, and my floor does not have to be meticulously swept, vacuumed, or moped every day. As an adult, and on my own, I developed what I call “Who Cares?” exercises. These consist of leaving dirty close on the floor overnight, not doing the dishes right away, and leaving my paper work disorganized. (The last one is the toughest for me.)
The best treatment out there for this condition is counseling, behavior modification exercises, and basically understanding where these actions and behaviors come from. OCD is a form of anxiety and comes from the same part of the brain as sexuality, aggression, and habitual behavior, called the orbitofrontal cortex. Other parts of the brain are involved, also, and the behaviors that are exhibited are a way to control and neutralize the obsessive fears of the person suffering with OCD. It is a serious, and sometimes debilitating condition, but with therapy and medications, it can be brought under control most of the time.
Psychology, Ciccarelli and Meyer