Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a neurological disorder on the anxiety spectrum characterized by recurrent unwanted thoughts, impulses, or images (obsessions) followed by intrusive behaviors (compulsions). Often the person carries out the behaviors to get rid of the obsessive thoughts, but this only provides temporary relief. Not performing the compulsive rituals can cause great anxiety.

Common obsessions may include:

  • Contamination - fear of dirt, germs, blood, chemical products, or illness
  • Safety/harm - being responsible for a fire, hitting someone with a car
  • Unwanted acts of aggression - unwanted impulse to harm a loved one or self; blurting out obscenities or insults
  • Unacceptable sexual thoughts - molesting children; doubts about being homosexual or becoming homosexual; sexual impulses/images about rape
  • Scrupulosity - "seeing sin where there is none", unacceptable religious thoughts, sacrilegious images of Christ, blasphemy, sin
  • Symmetry or exactness - wanting everything to be just right or symmetrical
  • Perfectionism - remembering certain things such as slogans, license plate #'s, names, words; fear of forgetting, saying something wrong or not "Just Right" and/or leaving details out
  • Miscellaneous - bothered by certain sounds, noises

Common compulsions may include:

  • excessive cleaning (e.g., ritualized hand washing)
  • checking, ordering and arranging rituals
  • counting (counting words, syllables, items in the room)
  • repeating routine activities (e.g., going in/out of a doorway; words, phrases, songs)
  • hoarding (e.g., collecting useless items).
  • confessing
  • asking for reassurance from a person you trust
  • blinking or staring rituals

Treatment includes therapy and/or medication. Exposure & Response Prevention has been shown to be the most effective form of treatment for OCD.


Nation Institute of Mental Health - http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml

The OCD Project - http://www.vh1.com/shows/the_ocd_project/series.jhtml


Brain Lock by Jeffrey M . Schwartz, M.D.

The Doubting Disease by Joseph W. Ciarrocchi