Common Obsessions and Compulsions in OCD
When we think about OCD, many of us picture the most well-known symptoms, such as repeated hand-washing due to worry about germs or compulsively keeping things in order. However, there are many different ways that OCD can intrude on our lives. Common reasons why people with OCD seek treatment include:
● Fear of getting sick, contaminated, or catching a specific disease (such as HIV)
● Repeated washing, showering, “purell-ing,” avoidance of contaminated objects, or research into diseases and how they are contracted
● Fear of losing control and hurting oneself or others (e.g., attacking loved ones, pushing someone into the street, jumping off a train platform); Avoidance of and anxiety around knives, train platforms, heights, or any other objects or situations where one could do something dangerous
● Anxiety about having inappropriate sexual thoughts (violent images, incest, pedophilia, bestiality, etc.)
● Feeling contaminated, uncomfortable, or likely to change in some undesirable way due to being around or thinking about certain people or kinds of people (E.g., being around someone who has had bad luck will in turn make you “unlucky”)
● Worries about hitting a pedestrian while driving; Repeatedly checking mirrors, the road, the car, or news reports for evidence of it
● Need for things to feel “just right,” leading to repetitive cleaning, ordering, arranging, light switching, door or window-locking, re-reading, re-writing, walking up and down stairs or through doors, etc.
● Doubting one’s sexual orientation and fears about what those doubts will mean (In contrast with legitimately questioning one’s sexuality, in OCD there is not much actual attraction prompting the questioning, and much more focus on the “what if…”)
● Fears about offending God, thinking or doing things that are sins, going to hell, or not properly completing religious traditions or rituals (Strong adherence to religious practices is not OCD, but focusing more than others do on following the rules perfectly may be)
● Repeating things until reaching certain “good” numbers or and/or avoidance of “bad” numbers or “jinxed” dates.
● Distracting and frustrating philosophical thoughts or ideas
● Fear that one emits an unpleasant odor, possibly leading to repetitive checking and grooming (sometimes referred to as Olfactory Reference Syndrome or ORS)