Friday, June 13, 2008

How Bathroom Breaks Can Inspire Me

So, I left my office this morning to take a trip to the restroom. When I got there, I noticed a young woman washing her hands. This might seem rather innocuous, but what intrigued me about this woman was that she stared at her hands in the mirror while washing them. She also lathered them in a very precise, almost ritualistic manner. It was a little disturbing, I have to admit.

When I returned to my office, I mentioned the incident to my colleagues, and they insisted that this was worthy of a blog post. The woman was clearly OCD, they said.

Since our mission on this blog is to teach you about places to get information, I thought I would mention a few databases you could search to find out about mental disorders.

The first place I looked was a database open to anyone called PubMed. It's a public medical database sponsored by the US National Library of Medicine. I wanted to find out more about what causes a mental disorder and how it's diagnosed by medical professionals, so this seemed a good place to begin my search for information. I typed "Obsessive Compulsive Disorder hand washing" into the search box and retrieved over eighteen articles on my topic. The first one talked about how to treat OCD hand washing. It turns out the woman in the bathroom may have had a fairly common disorder.

So, in this database, I learned about diagnosis and treatment, but what about the causes of mental disorders? I still needed to find out about that part of my original question. I thought the best place to look would be a database that specialized in psychology.

To learn more, I went to the Marriott Library's databses and selected a database called PsychArticles, which the library subscribes to through the vendor EbscoHost. In this database, I simply searched for "obsessive compulsive disorder" and found over one hundred psychology articles on the mental illness. The results also included information about diagnosis and treatment, but also case studies on the various ways in which a variety of mental illnesses present themselves.

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