For the Classroom

Guess the Disorder Quiz: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

  • Published2 Jul 2018
  • Reviewed2 Jul 2018
  • Author Emma Lindberg
  • Source BrainFacts/SfN


Neurologists and psychiatrists work every day to diagnose patients. One way they do this is by observing patients and asking them to describe their symptoms. In this activity, students will fill the role of a neurologist trying to diagnose a disease or disorder based on the evidence provided.

After studying the provided materials on diseases and disorders in the eighth edition of Brain Facts, students will investigate the symptoms of an unnamed disease using a handful of clues. Students will sift through their knowledge of neurodegenerative diseases, injury, and psychiatric disorders to eliminate wrong answers and solve the mystery.

Prep Work

This activity is based on chapters 11–15 (pages 71–104) of the eighth edition of Brain Facts. Encourage students to read the chapters during class time or on their own to study for the Guess the Disorder Quiz.


  1. Provide your student with the “Disorder Clues” prompt.
  2. Ask your students to read the prompt and use the information they learned from the Brain Facts book to determine the diagnosis. This can be done individually or as a group.


After your students have completed the quiz, ask them to share their answers with the class. Ask each student or group to give their rationale as to why they chose the diagnosis they did.

Disorder Clues

This psychiatric disorder is a common, chronic condition aptly named for its symptoms: uncontrollable, recurring thoughts or fixations and repeated, ritualistic behaviors to banish, relieve, or compensate for the recurring thoughts.

Fixations can vary widely: A person may, for example, worry about getting sick from a contaminated object, or feel the need to be “perfect” all the time. The ritualistic behaviors attempt to counteract those thoughts behaviorally — for example, by excessive hand washing, or constantly checking for mistakes or problems such as leaving appliances on. Another type of this disorder is hoarding, provoked by the fear of losing or forgetting important information after discarding something.

People with this disorder are burdened by their uncontrolled thoughts, and, although ritualistic behaviors can provide relief, they do not bring pleasure.


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)



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