Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a debilitating mental illness that causes significant distress to a person’s life. Someone with OCD has intrusive, unwanted, obsessive thoughts causing feelings of anxiety, distress, and fear. Compulsive behavior is the result of these feelings. Mental rituals begin to avoid something bad happening, although the majority of the time, no danger is present. The compulsive behavior can be related to the underlying fear, but sometimes the compulsive behavior seems completely disconnected from the fear. A person with OCD struggles to control these behaviors and has extremely strong urges to perform these behaviors, despite their illogical nature.
There are different types of obsessions categorized as OCD
- Contamination - Someone who struggles with contamination has an extreme fear of germs. This could mean washing their hands compulsively to try to prevent illness from occurring in addition to obsessively cleaning.
- Symmetry, Order, and Counting - People struggling with this obsession have a very specific way of doing things, and they will spend an unreasonable amount of time to assure the order and symmetry is maintained. Counting occurs because the person affected has obsessions about numbers, and they will often recount things several times to ensure accuracy or change the count of something to reflect a number that will prevent danger from occuring.
- Self-control - Another common obsession for a person with OCD is a fear that they will lose control and do something inappropriate. This can mean anything from a fear of yelling inappropriate things in public to being afraid of actually physically harming someone, all due to a fear of losing control of oneself.
- Aggressive and/or Sexual Thoughts - This obsession ties into a fear of losing self control as a person fears turning violent and hurting others. They will experience aggressive thoughts and imagery. Commonly, these thoughts are of a sexual nature, which cause a person to question their own behavior and morality, despite having done nothing wrong.
- Harm to Loved Ones - A troubling obsession is fearing that something bad is going to happen to someone the person loves. They may have intrusive thoughts and visions of accidents where the worst case scenario happens and people are hurt. Compulsive behaviors relating to this obsession revolve around trying to prevent bad things from happening.
- Checking - One obsession that causes compulsive behavior is called checking. Essentially, a person fears that they have no done something or done something accurately, so they compulsively check to make sure everything is done and right to avoid something bad from happening. This could mean checking to see if you turned off the coffee fifteen times before feeling secure enough to leave the house.
- Religion and Sin - Some people who struggle with OCD perform compulsive behavior due to a religious belief that something bad will happen if they do not perform the ritual. They may worry obsessively about whether or not they are a good person, causing major distress.
If you or someone you love may struggle with OCD, schedule a free consultation with our director Dr. Jolene Ross.