The unwashed jersey, favorite seats, hats worn inside out: Are these superstitions and game day rites a harmless little routine, or could they be something more serious like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)?
OCD has a variety of obsessions. Some people with OCD associate certain colors and numbers with bad luck or good luck, just like any other person might, but there are differences. People with OCD have intrusive, unwanted thoughts about their obsessions and feel they must perform certain rituals in order to control the outcome and avoid catastrophe.
Unlike superstitions, OCD rituals are fueled by anxiety
More than two million people have OCD. Most often the disorder includes a fear of contamination, harm or general loss of control. The compulsive behaviors — constantly washing one's hands or checking the door several times to make sure it's locked — provide a sense of protection. These behaviors are always associated with anxiety when OCD is present. The anxiety is not there for a superstitious belief.
OCD interferes with life
Putting your socks on the same way exactly 90 minutes before the big game does not indicate OCD. “That’s not really going to get in the way of life,” Dr. Todd Peters, a psychiatrist at Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital, stated. “Because life is ever-changing, they can’t expect other people to buy into their ritual or compulsion ... People get so stuck in their minds that they can’t get off that topic.”
OCD can be controlled with a combination of drugs and exposure therapy. About one-third of people with OCD find a resolution to their obsessions, another one-third have a version of the illness which comes and goes, while the final one-third will struggle with the disorder throughout their lives.
Source: ABC News