News Article Details

David Christy: We may never really know

Enid News & Eagle - 2/16/2019

Feb. 16--Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.

OK, I have discovered I (arguably) have a fairly mild case of OCD. I'm not alone, I'm quite sure many of us have the mild form of this affliction, and I'm not at all sure it's all that bad.

OCD, I've found, apparently gets me through each day, and as long as I don't go overboard, it's served me well over the years.

I've written on several occasions that I have major OCD when it comes to being late for something ... anything!

I admit it, there it is.

I've always had it and always will. I'll be 15 minutes early to my funeral. As if that's ever going to happen. I mean, I'm so far behind I will never die.

So, there's that.

I'm OCD at work as news editor in producing this paper's front page. I daily have about 101 things I have to do to get an attractive-looking Page 1, and without a little OCD, it wouldn't get done.

You want to see me come off the OCD rails, just have a late-breaking news story force me into remaking a front page.

It's not pretty.

So, taking thoughts on OCD into the area of history, I can see that the affliction (I call it daily routine) likely was present in a number of great people during significant world events.

Now don't get me wrong, OCD probably wasn't the only reason that things happened in our history.

I mean, what if Napoleon Bonaparte, on the morning of the history-turning Battle of Waterloo, didn't get his bowl of Cheerios with blueberries and whole milk for breakfast?

What if his wife, Josephine, had sent him a letter, nagging him about all the times he just tossed his underwear on the floor, and not into the hamper?

Or, as history has pointed out, he had a medical affliction that kept his keen military mind off of the British, Dutch, Belgian and Prussian forces, the Duke of Wellington and Gen. Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher.

Yep, that name alone probably gave Napoleon an OCD nightmare.

Bonaparte was a brilliant tactician on the battlefield, and generally as a strategist, although invading Russia still is on the all-time list of major blunders in military history.

And, on the morning of June 18, 1815, Napoleon made one of those blunders he was legendary about exploiting in enemy forces that faced down France's Grande Armée. Napoleon waited until afternoon to attack the split forces of the British and Prussians, and they were able to rejoin and turn the tide of battle -- his army meeting its Waterloo.

Why did Napoleon wait to attack, when it possibly would have ended in a great victory for the French, who had one of history's most formidable armies?

A win at Waterloo may have -- would have -- changed European history for a century.

Had he been distracted by some everyday thing each and every one of us take for granted?

Had he a stomach ache, that had him fail to eat a good breakfast, and his famed gift for timing and daring military operations failed him?

Did a stomach affliction change the course of world history?

Was his mind on his beautiful wife, and not on the movement of the Duke of Wellington's troops?

Did his OCD for the details of fighting a battle fail him?

We may never really know, despite major speculation by many historians of that period.

It's long been speculated by historians that brilliant Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was greatly distracted by a mild heart attack during the American Civil War's famous three-day Battle of Gettysburg.

If Lee had a mild heart attack during the great battle that helped turn the tide of the Civil War against the Confederacy, does it not follow that a caprice of nature may well have forever changed the outcome of American history?

What would America look like today if the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia hadn't been crippled by Lee's monumental blunder and failure of Pickett's Charge that July day in 1863?

Would I even been writing this column, or you reading it?

Yes, each of us has our own distractions, our OCD, our foibles and habits that determine our lives each and every day we live on this earth.

It is not a stretch of imagination to think everyday things like anger, love, lack of trust, routine or a simple illness genuinely affected great people of history into making mistakes, or even stumbling into great achievements despite -- or because of -- these perceived hindrances.

We may never really know.

Christy is news editor at the Enid News & Eagle. Visit his column blog at


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