There was a group of people with obsessive compulsive disorder on the show “Truth Be Told: I Have OCD” on the Oprah Winfrey Network. My wife and I were watching as one woman explained her OCD stemmed from a religious fervor – all her habits were as an aversion to sin. Another woman pulled her hair out, starting at around the time of her parents’ divorce. A third started after his sixth concussion while playing high school football.
These are origin stories. Very rarely do we hear them. Usually we just see the end result, but have no idea why we are who we are. But these people spoke very clearly of the causes to their disorders.
It was such a straight road from adversity to disorder that if it had happened in fiction I wouldn’t have believed it.
Yes, truth is stranger. But with this illustration, it’s even more clear.
What I Learned: If I’m writing about a disorder, OCD or otherwise, I won’t (not shouldn’t…this is more of a personal decision than a ground rule) come up with a cause. They just are.
Even if there’s a statistic somewhere that says most OCD comes from a cause, I don’t believe the cause.
The story’s interior reality is more important than reality.
A similar post about psychosis having a clear cause: https://whatilearnedbywriting.wordpress.com/2010/05/16/origins-for-psychopaths/
Disclaimer/background: I’m a traditionalist. I don’t think people should break rules of storytelling unless there’s a good reason. I write comic books, short fiction and children’s books. Just to put my comments in perspective, these are my interests and favorites: My favorite superhero is Spider-Man, and I also like Justice League and Batman. My favorite comic writers lately have been Kurt Busiek, Peter David, and Geoff Johns. I am a huge Transformers fan. In children’s books, I go either simple or meta: either really simple stories or books about stories. In movies and books, I am more impressed with something small that makes me feel something rather than something I’m told is a “must-read” or a must-see.”
I make silly videos and post them here:
I also have OCD!