“In the winter that seat is close enough to the radiator to remain warm, and yet not so close as to cause perspiration. In the summer, it’s directly in the path of a cross-breeze created by opening windows there and there. It faces the television at an angle that is neither direct, thus discouraging conversation, nor so far wide as to create a parallax distortion. I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point.” – Sheldon Cooper
Sheldon’s love for his spot is the kind that fairy tales are made of! I was arranging my books after my last tests, when I noticed that I always put them in the same order. This triggered a series of observations that made me realise that I, in fact have always been a little obsessive about the order in which things are done! Either while reading, cooking or even folding my clothes, I always followed the same steps, mostly even without noticing. I had heard about OCD, and often wondered why I could relate so much to Dr. Sheldon Cooper’s character from The Big Bang Theory. I seem to have found my answer. Sheldon also displays definitive symptoms of OCD in the popular TV series, such as sneaking into Penny’s apartment at night to clean it, not being able to bear the thought of staying across the hall from such a health hazard! He also knocks at people’s door three times and repeats their name every time he knocks almost like a ritual.
Why such a compulsion takes control, over riding all other thoughts in our mind was what intrigued me. It can be due to biological causes focusing on a circuit in the brain which regulates primitive aspects of our behaviour such as aggression. When this circuit gets activated, the impulse to perform an appropriate action in response to any given cause is brought to our attention. In case of a compulsive disorder, we face difficulty in ignoring these impulses, hence causing us to perform the same action again and again. For example, a germophobe may keep washing his hands again and again after a visit to the restroom, since he cannot turn off the thoughts of contamination.
So, for Sheldon Cooper, it’s more than a matter of sitting in his spot. It disturbs his line of thought, and in turn makes him unable to focus on anything else he does, sitting in a different seat. It might come across as crazy, somewhat hilarious, but come to think of it, it can be quite crippling even for a prodigy like Sheldon. The constant voice in your head that wouldn’t die down. Some forms of OCD may also be triggered after episodes of acute stress, but it does not act as a significant cause of such a disorder. As for a cure, most therapists believe that altering the amount of serotonin absorption produced in the brain with the help of drugs can help. But more than anything else, a remarkable amount of patience and love while handling such people can help them realise when they are being too adamant about something and make them hold themselves back.
Well, at least Sheldon has an understanding mother! :D