Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Fear of Plagiarism


My name is Laura and I'm an Obsessive Compulsive.  

I've decided to blog about my journey through life dealing with this disorder because I believe that it is commonly misunderstood and generally misrepresented in the media.  Everyday with OCD is a struggle with more than just cleanliness or whether or not I left the oven on.  There is so much to this interesting disorder.

I'm hoping to use this blog as a way to help others with OCD connect and feel less alone.  Each post will focus on either a triumph or tragedy of the day.  Like most things, OCD is something you have to take one day at a time.

Today, for my first post, I'd like to start with a triumph

Today's triumph has been over my fear of plagiarism.  One of the reasons that I have never really worked on an OCD blog before or pursued my love of writing has been an OCD fear of plagiarizing.  I have a completely irrational phobia that when I write, I am stealing someone else's work.  I could literally be writing about something that happened to me that day, and I would still worry that somehow I was dishonestly poaching someone else's ideas.

I am currently working on a book, and today for the first time I searched to see if anyone else had written similarly about the topic.  Until now I had been totally petrified of even seeing another title, out of fear that I would honestly believe that I was stealing ideas just by having read them.

When I say fear, I mean that I could mull and worry about it all day long.  I could sit, feeling intense chest pain from worry, unable to think about other things that are much more important (like that my mom just got out of the hospital).  

I told my dad that I was upset at having looked up the topic at all, that now I felt like I couldn't continue on with my book without feeling horrible.  His response was simply, "Don't be stupid."

Now, some would say that this was a little harsh... maybe too strong for someone struggling with mental illness.  But honestly, that's what OCD is: stupidDumb.  You have to not even allow yourself to get into an argument with it.  Focus on other things instead., baby.

And today, by making this blog and publishing my first post, I am triumphing over that OCD urge to cower.  That urge to listen to stupidity and stop following my own desires.  That urge to give in to anxiety.

Well, not today.  Today was a good day.


P.S.  Okay, so I've had OCD for as long as I can remember, but I have been blogging for less than a day on Blogger.  Bear with me as I figure this out.


  1. Brilliant post! I completely understand this! I worry about similar things and then my brain does that spiral of brain stuff and gets itself into a right mess! Keep up the good work. I like that you also see a slight humorous side to OCD. Don't get me wrong, I wish I was without it but I also understand that it is a part of me. Sometimes I just need a hug and to be told that I am fine ☺️ I have learnt to manage mine but embrace it at times when I need to give myself a break. Sometimes I am able to giggle at myself for it. My closest friends and family will giggle with me but are also completely reassuring and supoortive so I am very lucky ☺️ Oh and they are patient!

    1. "Spiral of brain stuff" is a perfect description! Having the right social support is so crucial. I'm also lucky to have very understanding friends and family... I don't know what I'd do without them! Always happy to hear from a fellow OCD soul. Thanks for writing!

  2. Thanks for sharing your story! I think that raising awareness about mental health issues such as OCD is so important. I think a lot of people casually use the term "OCD" without really realizing what it truly means to live with the disease. I'm looking forward to learning more about it by reading your blog.

    1. Thanks for reading! I agree that the term OCD is often casually thrown around without true understanding. I hope that I can help shed some light on the topic! Always let me know if you have any questions.

  3. Hi Laura! Jeanie told me about your blog. I too have OCD. As I read this post, I was once again amazed that other people have the same fears that I have or have had. Fear of plagiarism was a biggie for me, especially in high school and college. I don't look for a cure either, but management. I can say that it has become easier to manage as I get older. When I was diagnosed, I was 26 years old--it took me that long to tell anyone what I was going through. I look forward to reading your posts!

    1. Fear of plagiarism was a bear in high school and college. I'm glad to hear it has become easier to manage for you. I have my good and bad days. I'm sorry that you went through so much before you were diagnosed. I was diagnosed in elementary school! Thanks for visiting! (Jeanie is the best!)

  4. (I posted this comment on your article on theocdstories as well.)

    It’s nice to know that I’m not alone with OCD fears of plagiarism. I’ve dealt with two types of that same beast. Academic plagiarism and fiction plagiarism (as in: I write stories, mainly fanfiction). I mean… even if the TYPE of writing is different, it’s literally the same fear, just repackaged for a different situation. One’s a school worry thing, the other is a hobby worry thing.

    There was a period of about two years (from 2014-2016) where I didn’t post anything I wrote and I think part of it was because of those fears. It got to the point where I was tired of feeling that fear lurking every time I posted a story online (and I tend to include a note that’s like “there are probable influences from other things in this story!” that literally does nothing except act as a ritual for OCD– and EVERY STORY EVER has been influenced by other things).

    Nowadays I’m posting stories but the fear is there still (hell, it was really bad today and yesterday), but like… I also realize: in the time I’ve been posting stories online publicly (more than five years)… none of my fears have come true.

    And it kinda helps to hear other people (who may not have OCD at all) just be like “no idea is original”. I mean, if fiction writers didn’t use tropes, fiction would have ended at Gilgamesh.

    And if I stop writing or stop posting my writing online… OCD WINS. And I don’t want that.

    So thank you for this post! It’s so comforting to know I’m not alone.

    1. Lady, you are most certainly not alone.

      I have also struggled in both academic writing and when I'm writing for fun. I am even worried it will creep into my head when I am writing my wedding vows soon. The blog has been helpful for me in many ways, but it's still very hard sometimes.

      I am so glad to hear that you are in a place now where you can get back to writing. You are absolutely right that letting OCD make you overthink the originality of your ideas will only hamper your creativity and paralyze you from getting anything done.

      I also had no idea people could comment on my article on theocdstories, so that is good to know!

    2. (I love that you called me lady because I actually love calling myself lady.)

      I will definitely keep your comment "You are absolutely right that letting OCD make you overthink the originality of your ideas will only hamper your creativity and paralyze you from getting anything done." in my mind. As a reminder not to let OCD win.

      Well it's said "Comment awaiting approval" since I posted it so, shrug. I guess it's a moderated thing?

      Thanks for your lovely response.

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