Somehow, I knew you’d come look at this post…
Okay, I’m kidding. Sort of. This is a very YMMV (your mileage may vary) characteristic among those with OCD, even if it seems to crop up frequently.
In a previous post, I mentioned that there are a few fictional detectives with OCD characteristics. (See OCD in Fiction.) I think the appeal in this characterization match-up is that you have the quirky vulnerability of someone living life under certain terms as well as the methodical, deliberate, obsessive tenacity of OCD.
If you’ve read other posts, you know that I don’t have some of the more stereotypical symptoms. I’m not clean. My organization is very subjective. My OCD is purely obsessive (Pure-O) and many of my symptoms are buried inside me. I spend a lot of time in my own head which is a very crowded space. I also watch and examine my environment and those around me constantly. Typically, I’m watching for a threat level and how much impact environment and people will have. I’m watching facial expressions because I’m paranoid of what people think of me. I people-watch with the fascination of someone who doesn’t fit in and the awareness of a member of the secret service. I catalogue all the dangers around me constantly. This heightened awareness is somewhat exhausting but it’s also built a certain degree of intuition.
One of my OCD quirks is that I’m obsessed with what people think of me and of not offending them. So, I’m constantly adapting my behavior and dialogue. I build mental files on what bothers people. “So-and-so doesn’t like the acronym LOL.” “So-and-so is deathly afraid of snakes.” “So-and-so is conservative and into homeopathy.” I’ll admit, I do sometimes perceive dislike where there isn’t any, but not usually. Like my own patterns, there are patterns to the behavior of others. Once you recognize their deepest motivations, you can predict them better. Then, you can extrapolate out and apply the anticipated patterns to people with matching characteristics. My intuition about people rarely leads me astray.
Then, there’s my intuition about possible danger. Well, that’s a leeetle bit more complicated. Part of my goal for the future is minimizing and avoiding all plausible danger in my life and the lives of everyone around me. This means avoidance. It means anticipating danger (and my threshold for this is a tiny bit sensitive.) I will say that my kids have made it to teenagehood relatively unscathed. My paranoia did necessitate my husband stepping in though frequently. It’s also hard to judge the success of avoiding danger…when you avoid it so it doesn’t happen.
My mental cataloging has also created a very visually focused memory. Over the years, my brain has shifted to storing away information in visible snapshots. My memory for audio information is absolute crap. I’ve got a seconds long retention if I don’t write it down. But if I’ve seen it, my memory isn’t half-bad. In fact, I’m like the king, queen, and court jester of hide and seeking lost items. Not only do I have stored images to pull from, but I can skip back through where I think someone might have left something…consider outside factors and draw conclusions. I just know, even if I haven’t seen it there…it makes sense.
Intuition for people’s behavior is awesome for a writer. I flesh out my characters in my head, giving them traits from people I’ve known over the years, and then I know exactly how the composite would behave.
Intuition is one of the positives of my OCD, in my opinion. In fact, I mentioned it in my post about the Good Parts of OCD.
How’s your intuition? Are you a people-watcher too? Did you like the clip art I chose at the top of this post? Did you read this entire post and are you able to assure me that I’d make a credible detective? If so, comment below.
**If you or someone you love has obsessive-compulsive disorder, a medical professional would be able to give you more specific help and guidance if you want or need it. Nothing I’ve said can replace seeking help or should be construed as advice. Be safe and be well and be you and seek help if you need it. This post is based on my own experiences and my interaction with others diagnosed with OCD.**