A study by Professor Reuven Dar of Tel Aviv University's Department of Psychology appearing in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, suggests that when children experience heightened levels of sensitivity, they develop ritualistic behaviors to better cope with their environment they live in. In the long term, this is one potential pathway to obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD).
According to Dar, hypersensitivity and excessive adherence to childhood rituals may foreshadow the onset of OCD as the child ages. His studies indicated a strong connection between compulsive tendencies and hypersensitivity. In children, hypersensitivity was an indicator of ritualism, whereas in adults it was related to OCD symptoms. He suggests that these findings provide preliminary support for the idea that such sensitivities are a precursor to OCD symptoms.
For example, when children are extremely sensitive to certain types of sensory stimuli, they can feel that they are being attacked, or that some aspects of their environment is seen as a source of threat. Ritualism could develop as a defense mechanism, helping these children to regain a sense of control, which is also a symptom of adults with OCD.