In a recent article on Huffington Post, the author details her own struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). OCD is “characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear, or worry; by repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing the associated anxiety; or by a combination of such obsessions and compulsions.”
I am sure if I were tested, the diagnostic happy psychotherapists would say I have OCD. For example, I have spent hundreds or thousands of hours playing Arcanum, yet I have never finished the game. I keep restarting my character, trying to play the perfect game. Each time I find an annoyance in the game, I exit, delve into the game’s code, modify the game to my preference and then restart. This is not limited to Arcanum. I may have spent more time programming modifications for Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas than I have spent time playing either game.
There are very similar stories around the internet of “OCD”. From the Huffington Post comments section:
I worked for several years as a driver for a lady with OCD. She was quite incapable of driving herself, because if she ran over so much as a stick and could hear or feel it, she would not be able to stop herself from returning to the ‘scene’ to be sure that she had not injured or killed something. As she was not a hermit by nature, it was a grave problem for her to not be able to leave her house.
One familiar feature of all these stories is that they are first world problems. These “problems” can only be entertained because we live in a miraculously opulent world. When Jesus prayed “give us today our daily bread”, this was just not a figure of speech. People would literally grind their wheat daily to daily make their bread. There was no time in this world to color-organize closets, size-organize books, or reprogram computer games. People spent their day grinding wheat! Death by starvation is a good check on quirky behavior.
As Bryan Caplan notes, even mild incentives quickly change people’s diagnosable “diseases”. It is a wonderful world in which people have the time to complain about having to flick light switches multiple times.