There are certainly many pathways that lead toward OCD behaviors in adults, and I sketched out the place of OCD in the broader web of dysfunction seen during cocooning times. I traced it mostly to social isolation.
However, there is another major, separate pathway by which OCD rises during a period of falling crime and cocooning -- the effects in adulthood of sexual abuse in childhood. During a rising-crime period, such abuse becomes more common, since violent crimes track one another over time. What happens when these young victims become adults old enough to be raising children of their own? That will unfold much later, when the crime rate is in its falling rather than rising phase, and when the broader society has started to cocoon.
Here is a brief journal article on the relationships between childhood sexual abuse, obsessive-compulsive behaviors in adulthood, parenting styles, and their children's perfectionism, anxiety, and other negative emotional states. Not all of it has been mapped out, but it looks like a fair amount has been uncovered.
Adults who have a history of childhood sexual abuse are more likely to develop OCD behavior. So part of the rise of OCD over the past 20 years is due to the emergence of adulthood symptoms of childhood abuse, sustained during the epidemic of the '60s through the '80s, but particularly during the '80s.
Somehow the abused parents transmit perfectionism to their children. Other studies suggested it was through the parents' OCD, with the kids adopting a perfectionist style to comply with their parents' OCD. This one didn't find such an effect, although none of the parents here had clinical levels of OCD. Perhaps the abused parents practice more permissive or authoritarian parenting styles, which are associated with perfectionism in children. They didn't measure parenting style here, so that's just a guess.
Whatever the mechanism turns out to be, though, it's clear that childhood sexual abuse leaves its mark on the victim, who as a parent expresses adulthood symptoms, which their child responds to by becoming more anxious and perfectionist.
Generation X and Gen Y was the most susceptible to sexual abuse as children, and their children, the Millennials, are the most anxious, self-doubting, and perfectionist generation in decades. So the study results would seem to apply to long-term changes and generational dynamics at the society level.
There was an earlier epidemic of sex abuse toward children during the 1920s (also a period of rising homicide rates), making the Greatest Generation the main targets. When they became parents in the mid-century, a good number would have been expressing symptoms -- OCD behavior, permissive or authoritarian parenting styles, or whatever -- that their children, the Silent Generation, responded to by being anxious, perfectionist, etc., just like the Millennials.
So here's a separate but crucial pathway whereby falling-crime periods are marked by a rise in OCD -- the delayed effects of an epidemic of childhood sexual abuse from the earlier, rising-crime period.
The flipside of that is the Baby Boomers having had relatively safe and abuse-free childhoods during the 1950s and early '60s, and growing up to become more well-adjusted parents -- not overly permissive or authoritarian -- and whose kids were not perfectionist, in childhood anyway.
I don't think the questionnaires used to measure abuse set the threshold at forcible rape. It probably includes a lot of gray-area encounters. Not that many victims of the worst forms of child abuse would tell everybody about it as adults, let alone those who experienced the milder or murkier forms. So just because you haven't heard of too many people having had such experiences, doesn't mean they did not. Rampant OCD these days is one sign that there are more people than you'd think who had something happen to them when they were little back in the '70s or '80s.
To end with a case study for further reading, here is one mother's account of her OCD drive to keep her kids' room uncluttered and immaculate, to the point where she snapped one day and took away all of their toys. And here is her personal history, where she says that it all started with sexual abuse when she was in elementary school in the mid-to-late 1980s.
The literature review in the article tells us that this link is not a coincidence, but read through both to get a better feel for the connections that run from sexual abuse, vulnerability, and violated trust in childhood to an OCD parenting style in adulthood. That awareness, plus a sense of the timing of the sex abuse epidemic, helps to clarify why there seems to be such a paranoid and distrusting undercurrent to our culture of OCD.
It's not just the nerdy-spergy kind of OCD -- there's this palpable suspicion of the polluting and disruptive influences of strangers. That's why you have to seal your children off from their peers, from all other grown-ups, home-school them, home-church them, and so on.