The first response is right on point: OCD is, by definition, not rational.
I can relate with the OP's son in that I have contamination obsessions and wash my hands probably more than the average person, and definitely way more than necessary. These obsessions aren't as bad as they used to be, but they're still there. Yet I can go days without showering.
One possible explanation I've had, and which might be the case for others, is that some instances of contamination obsessions are--for lack of a better term--self-serving. What I mean is that it's about keeping yourself quarantined from anything external, and you're not /quite/ as keen about not contaminating others. (I've personally been making an effort to be more considerate about this.) Since I'm mostly reclusive, not showering isn't putting up any "contamination!" red flags in my brain, at least not until I start to feel and smell gross enough.
That is to emphasize that /some instances of/ contamination obsessions are self-serving. Other instances are more general, or even specific to certain people in the sufferer's life. For example, I recall reading a post from a mother who suffered from post-partum OCD and had contamination obsessions that centered on her newborn daughter. She wasn't as much concerned about herself or her husband getting contaminated as she was about the health of her daughter.
Also, I've observed that the feeling of "feel and smell gross enough" is subjective and relative. Some people feel gross by the end of the day, and they shower at least once a day. Nose-blindness is a related but somewhat different phenomenon. When you rationalize not showering, you alter your frame of reference and set a new "standard".
The difference is that nose-blindness is more of a temporary/non-internalized thing. Like when your teenage son is playing video games online with his friends, blissfully unaware of the festering laundry smell permeating his bedroom. All he needs to do is leave the room for an hour or so and come back and notice the difference. On the other hand, this rationalizing not showering/altering frame of reference is more of an internalized belief that, if the person wants to change, requires restructuring daily habits -- in other words, behavioral intervention. It's more of an addiction-ish thing, and is still as much a part of the OCD process as cleaning compulsions.
**** I should note that I make no endorsement whatsoever of the site in the link above nor of the organization that sponsors it. I briefly just went through some of their treatment philosophy and I got the impression that they are largely supportive of the medical model of disability. The only thing I'm supporting is the experiences of the OP and various commenters on the forum.
Last updated: 2022-07-15