Looking for OCD help? Do you think some pretty weird thoughts? Intrusive thoughts? Does it seem like you may be contaminated by germs? Have you ever had startling, violent thoughts? Do you think these thoughts over and over? Are you feeling alone because of these thoughts? Do you find yourself doing behaviors over and over? If so, you are probably one of the millions of people who suffer from OCD. If you suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors tend to become very time-consuming. Daily, they interfere with your life. Click here to take and OCD Screening Quiz.
OCD can manifest in different ways in different people. Most people think of OCD as a “hand-washing” or “checking the door” disorder. In reality, there are several sub-categories of OCD:
Usually, specific symptom types tend to be relatively stable over time, but some people experience a change in the focus and nature of their symptoms. It is possible to have symptoms of more than one type at the same time. Usually, the majority of OCD sufferers are consistent with a particular subtype.
With this symptom subtype, people usually focus on feelings of discomfort associated with contamination. They will wash or clean excessively to reduce these feelings of anxiety or distress. For instance, a person might think that her hands are dirty or contaminated after touching a car door handle. She will obsess that she will contaminate others with her germs. To get rid of these feelings, she might wash her hands repeatedly for hours at a time.
Harm Obsessions With Checking Compulsions:
For people who experience this symptom subtype, they will often have intense thoughts related to possible harm to themselves or others and use checking rituals to relieve their distress. For example, a father may imagine his child will get run over at daycare so he will repeatedly drive by the daycare to make sure that an accident hasn’t happened. Or, a person may feel that by just thinking about a disastrous event, he is increasing the chances of such an event actually happening.
Obsessions Without Visible Compulsions:
This symptom subtype often relates to unwanted obsessions surrounding sexual, religious, or aggressive themes. For example, an individual could experience intrusive thoughts about stabbing their spouse with a butcher knife. In response, they may often use mental rituals such as counting in their head, reciting prays, or saying particular words. This is done in an attempt to relieve the anxiety that these involuntary thoughts bring about. Triggers related to obsessions are usually avoided at all costs. Sometimes a person may have obsessive thoughts and no compulsions. This is called Pure O. The following is a definition provided by Ottowa OCD:
Pure O Definition
- Beliefs regarding the importance of thoughts and the need to control them are common in people with this type of OCD. The meanings associated with unwanted thoughts may be related to views of self, i.e. “Having a bad thought means I am a bad person.”
- People with mental compulsions are usually coping with thoughts that are unacceptable or taboo in nature (sexual, harming, religious thoughts), or worries about illness and health. Rather than perform an overt ritual, such people will engage in these covert rituals and mental neutralizing.
Symmetry Obsessions With Ordering, Arranging, and Counting compulsions:
Unique to this subtype, an individual will feel a strong need to arrange, rearrange, or place objects until they are “just right.” That is to say, a man or woman might feel the need to constantly arrange his/her books on a bookshelf so that they are ordered precisely by color. Additionally, symptoms of this subtype can also involve saying or thinking words or sentences over and over again until the task is accomplished perfectly. In order to ward off potential danger counting, ordering, arranging compulsions are carried out. As an illustration: “If I arrange the cutlery perfectly my wife won’t die in an auto accident.” Although, this is not always the case.
Sexual Orientation OCD (Homosexual OCD or HOCD):
Typically involves obsessions about one’s sexuality. It has been labeled Homosexual OCD, but this is misleading. In actuality, it can happen to people of any sexuality, about any other sexuality. As Jon Kort, Ph.D. writes for PsychologyToday: “HOCD can suddenly occur for some men [or women] who, for example, find themselves being hit on by other gay or bisexual men [or women]. Mistaken for being gay or bisexual, find themselves attracted to another man [or woman] or stumble onto gay porn that excites them. They will often blame these things as reasons for how the HOCD started, but it isn’t about homosexuality nor bisexuality, it is about OCD.
The DSM-5 included new definitions or moved these disorders to this category.
- Hair-Pulling Disorder (trichotillomania): This OCD-related disorder, a person has a strong urge to pull the hair from his or her head, eyebrows, eyelashes, or elsewhere on their body. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can successfully treat this.
- Body Dysmorphic Disorder: This disorder is a “preoccupation with one or more perceived defects or flaws in appearance that are not observable or appear slight to others.” For example, the criteria include that a person has performed repetitive behaviors of grooming or checking his/her appearance or have mental acts, such as constantly comparing themselves appearance to others.