With advanced technology enabling long distance relationships,
the line between the former two can seem blurred; however, it is generally accepted that each member of a couple in love will have experienced lust for one another first, followed by romantic interest, and finally attachment. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is characterized by an inability to shift ones attention from a particular thought or action pattern. Those diagnosed with the disorder tend to have difficulty controlling both overt and covert attention due to interference from obsessive images or thoughts. In the field of psychology, overt attention is characterized as visual focus; while covert attention is characterized as mental focus regardless of ocular activity. An abundance of activity in the anterior cingulate cortexes of participants newly in love was similar to that found in patients diagnosed with OCD, suggesting that lust and romantic attraction may similarly affect attention. Though the study is strictly correlational, it raises questions as to exactly how new love interferes with ones life. It is widely acknowledged that breaking up with or losing a loved one can negatively affect an otherwise-healthy persons performance at work or in school; but can a happy relationship in its early stages also distract to the point of reducing productivity? Even OCD patients, after all, frequently understand that their compulsions are arbitrary; which drives many to seek treatment. Similarly, understanding the chemical effects of their condition may benefit new lovers attempting to complete tasks that involve a shift in attention. Therefore, future empirical studies along this line of research should involve task completion performance by participants diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder as compared to that of healthy participants at various stages in their romantic relationships.