Bernie and Charlie, the cavemen, were both friends even though Bernie was a worrier and Charlie was relaxed. Charlie slept outside the cave on humid nights where he could look at the stars and listen to the crickets. He hummed a lot. Bernie, on the other hand, was always alert to the dangers of sleeping out of doors: bugs, snakes, and the possible return of the saber-toothed tiger. He slept inside the cave towards the back where he could get some warning if Charlie began to scream. Even then, Bernie didn’t feel entirely safe. He thought that big rock that jutted out of the ceiling might fall if there was too much rain and block the entrance to the cave. You could never tell about that kind of thing. There was a flash flood last year that washed away all the clothing and smoked bear meat he had saved up for his retirement.
Edna, Bernie’s cousin, had obsessive-compulsive disorder, although nobody called it that back then. Bernie worried about anything, but Edna was a specialist. These are some of the things Edna worried about:
Charlie would watch her from outside the cave while he was chewing on a leaf and say to himself, “That woman is an idiot.”
Even Bernie, who worried about lots of things, especially lightning, thought Edna was an idiot.
But there was one thing about Edna. She had more than three children, an extra three, at least; and all of them had survived after being born healthy! That wasn’t as many children as some of the old women in the tribe who were over thirty and had too many children to count. (They could only count one, two, three, many.) But those other women had lost a lot of their children, and Edna hadn’t. (I don’t mean the children were actually lost. I meant they died, sometimes as soon as they were born.) Edna knew something that even a lot of the women alive now have forgotten, or never knew in the first place: You have to be especially careful when you’re pregnant!
We now know that women who get sick in the first trimester of pregnancy have a higher incidence of miscarriage. If they get an infection during the second trimester, the child who will be born three months later has a heightened risk of developing schizophrenia in later life. Not that Edna knew anything about schizophrenia. Even Bernie, the worrier, didn’t know about schizophrenia.
Nowadays we have many more drugs; and women who are pregnant should stay away from as many of them as possible. Depressed women, who seem to need to be on anti-depressants all the time do not need to be on them during a pregnancy, in my experience. At least, they should try coming off them and see if they really do need them.
In short, Edna and her children had a survival advantage because she had OCD. And that’s why we still have people with OCD around today.
Having OCD pays off when you’re pregnant. As long as you don’t get carried away. (c) Fredric Neuman Follow Dr. Neuman's blog at fredricneumanmd.com/blog