What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

Obsessions are intrusive and unwanted thoughts that occur repeatedly and against the person’s will.  They can produce anxiety, guilt, shame, or a sense that something doesn’t feel right.

Compulsions are the ritualized mental and/or physical behaviors that occur for lessening distress and discomfort.  Compulsions are frequently elaborate, time-consuming and costly.  Consequently, personal independence is sacrificed for the sake of avoiding imagined harm.

OCD produces considerable doubting.  Individuals living with OCD find it hard to distinguish between what is possible, what is probable, and what is unlikely to happen.

Folks with OCD ask the “What if?” question.  This is because uncertainty, or not knowing, is intolerable to them.  No one can really know for certain if harm can be avoided.  Therefore, living with uncertainty is essential to recovery for those affected by OCD.

Common Obsessions

  • Contamination: germs, dirt, oily or greasy substances, bodily fluids, chemicals
  • Harm: causing emotional or bodily harm to self or a loved one.
  • Religious: blasphemous thoughts and images, doubt about faith, possession by evil spirits or the Devil
  • Sexual: doubting sexual identity and preference, sex with children, sex with animals, doubt about acting sexually
  • Perfectionism: questioning whether something is said or done just right, needing completeness, knowing something perfectly well
  • Aggressive: antisocial acts including stabbing, shooting, mutilating children, adults and pets
  • Superstitious: lucky and unlucky numbers, words, phrases, and acts
  • Neutral: songs, noises, sounds

Common Compulsions

  • Decontamination: washing, cleaning, and disinfecting
  • Checking: locks, doors, windows, faucets, mental rehearsal
  • Magical: wearing special clothing, stepping in special ways, praying
  • Perfectionism: arranging and ordering, balancing, rewriting
  • Counting: footsteps, objects like ceiling tile and wall fixtures, multiples of numbers
  • Protective: checking on safety of loved ones, picking up glass, giving warning to others
  • Mental: rehearsing conversations, making mental lists and maps, replacing bad thoughts with good thoughts, reassuring self through reasoning
  • Movement: getting in and out of chair, reversing steps and starting over, finger tapping, touching things in special ways

Common Doubting Questions

  • What if this isn’t safe to touch?
  • I had a bad thought. Does God hate me?
  • She looks pretty. Does this mean I’m gay?
  • What if my bad feelings never go away?
  • Did I really lock that door?
Frank Morelli, MA, LMHC
P.O. Box 600100
Jacksonville, FL 32260
Telephone:  904-410-6324
Fax:  855-823-3434

Serving everyone in the state of Florida

OCD and Anxiety Disorder Specialist

Frank Morelli MA, LMHC | P.O. Box 600100 Jacksonville, FL 32260 | (904) 410-6324

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