Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a psychiatric illness characterized by either obsessive thoughts that the patient realizes are not grounded in reality, or repetitive behavior. Behaviors typical of the disorder include: - repeated hand washing
- repeatedly aligning objects to make right angles or parallel lines
- fear of becoming contaminated by bodily fluids
OCD suffers find it difficult to cope as they either become sidetracked with their own fears or thoughts, or alienate others with their behavioral idiosyncrasies. Behavior such as repeated hand washing can get bad enough to damage the skin.
OCD is difficult to treat, and usually requires a combination of behavioral therapy and medication. However, these therapies meet with differing levels of success with each patient.
House met a clinic patient who had a habit of constantly drinking water. She had been diagnosed with OCD, but House noted that she even got up several times a night to drink, something that is not typical of OCD patients (who show no symptoms when asleep). He instead diagnosed Diabetes insipidus, a condition which causes the body to overproduce urine, which requires the patient to drink large quantities of water to replace the loss.