Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders in Children: An Introduction

By Howard S. King, MD and Leslie Shapiro, LICSW

May 10, 2008


Is there anyone of us who doesn't want our physician, our pharmacist, or the pilot in charge of our plane to be obsessively and compulsively responsible as he or she could possibly be in performing his or her service for us?  Our very lives depend on it!

But do we want our children to be so afflicted?  Obsessive-compulsive disorders can have devastating consequences on the productivity, the sense of satisfaction, and the ease with which children move from one activity to another. It can also affect the transition from one developmental stage to the next.  As the case described in the article “Overcoming the diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder; a parent's story” illustrates, it can be a very painful and crippling disorder if it isn't recognized at the earliest possible time.”   

A definition

“Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, may cause repetitive, unpleasant thoughts (obsessions) or behaviors (compulsions) that are difficult to control.  Unlike ordinary worries or habits, these obsessions and compulsions may consume significant amounts of time (more than an hour per day, may interfere with a person's daily schedule, and may cause significant distress.  OCD affects approximately one percent of children and adolescents.  The tendency to develop this disorder involves complex and environmental factors.”  Available from the School Psychiatry Program, MADI Resource Center, of the Mass. General Hospital).

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I would like to thank the following for their generous support, without whom this web site and training program would not exist: The Sidney R. Baer, Jr. Foundation, The Alden Trust, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, Project INTERFACE (Newton Public Schools and the U.S. Department of Education), the Locke Educational Fund at Newton- Wellesley Hospital, Aetna Health Plan, the Kenneth B. Schwartz Center,  and the families of my medical practice. 

I hope you find this site useful and encourage any comments.

- Dr. Howard King, M.D.