Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Symptom Information
Unsure if your difficult thoughts are due to OCD? See the boxes below for more information about some of the different forms OCD can take, including types of OCD that can be hard to spot. Our clinicians have clinical experience working with a great variety of obsessive compulsive presentations, with the expertise needed to treat any kind of obsessive theme you might be struggling with, without judgement or scrutiny. Please note that this list is not exhaustive, and there are endless variations in the themes of obsessions unique to different individuals.
OCD: Common Obsessions
"Pure-O", "Pure Obsessional" OCD: Covert Compulsions
For many sufferers of OCD, their compulsions take the form of covert & mental compulsions, rather than overtly observable behavioural compulsions. This form of OCD was once thought to be rare (where in reality most sufferers of OCD present with at least some mental compulsions) and was mistakingly viewed to be a "Pure Obsessional" form of OCD due to the lack of recognition of sufferers' unobservable covert compulsions. Click here to read more.
A common OCD theme is the obsession around relationships, which can take numerous forms, from fears of infidelity to worrying they are lying to themselves and do not love their partner or find them to be attractive. Click here to read more.
Sufferers of OCD commonly experience obsessions in the form of taboo sexual obsessions, often characterised by intrusive thoughts of unwanted sexual themes such as paedophilia or incest, prompting distress and attempts to compulsively neutralise, analyse, debate, or suppress the thoughts. Read more here.
Fear of Causing Harm to self or others, aggressive obsessions, losing control
Obsessions may also take the form of fears around causing harm to oneself or others, either by losing control or through negligence. More info coming soon.
Contamination Obsessions & Hygiene Compulsions
OCD can also present with obsessions around contamination prompting compulsive hygiene behaviours and other attempts to neutralise the obsessions. Contamination fears can be around e.g., germs, but also commonly is driven by a "moral contamination" rather than a fear of germs. More info coming soon.
Checking compulsions are also common as a result of obsessions driven by a problematic sense of responsibility and memory distrust, from repetitive checking of stoves, lights, and doors, fearing they are unlocked or not turned off, but also in the form of scrutiny of memories and bodily sensations, among other compulsive behaviours. More info coming soon.
Gender & Sexuality Obsessions
OCD sufferers often ruminate compulsively to the point of uncertainty and confusion, creating fears and a false sense of doubt around their gender and sexuality, worrying that they are lying to themselves about their true sense of self which can feel destabilising. These obsessions are driven by a fear of uncertainty, or e.g., a fear they are "bad for lying to their partner about their true sexuality" rather than their values around gender and sexuality. More info coming soon.
Somatic & Sensorimotor Obsessions/Compulsions
Another form OCD can take is obsessive attention and hypervigilance to bodily sensations, such as swallowing, breathing, genital stimulation, health concerns, or uncomfortable sensory urges. Read more here.
Obsessing: do I really have OCD, or am I lying to myself?
OCD sufferers regularly present with obsessions around whether their thoughts and behaviours are actually OCD, or if they're lying to themselves and that their intrusive thoughts are actually true. Read more here.
Incompleteness, "Not Just- Right Experiences", & Sensory Phenomena.
What separates OCD from anxiety disorders, is in part the presence of tic-like sensory phenomena reported in 65.1% of sufferers, as well as the uncomfortable experience of something not feeling, looking, or sounding "just right", creating discomfort and driving repetitive behaviours to neutralise these uncomfortable sensory urges or sense of "incompleteness" (rather than compulsions driven by anxiety). More info coming soon.
OCD can also manifest around obsessive themes related to existence, such as fears they might not truly exist or whether the world around them is real, ruminating about their sense of self to the point of uncertainty, or compulsively dwelling on thoughts around death and non-existence. More info coming soon.
Real Incident Themed Obsessions
OCD can also take the form of intrusive thoughts and compulsive scrutiny of memories related to actual events of their past. These memories can be upsetting memories traumatic in nature (which the OCD has become attached to), or memories attached with shame, guilt, or embarrassment, or even ambiguous memories prompting scrutiny in attempt to uncover whether or not they caused harm in some way to others. More info coming soon.
Food Related Obsessions
OCD can feature obsessions around food, unrelated to weight gain, from difficulty with certain textures, to fearing becoming sick from food poisoning, or fearing certain food items for reasons they might not be able to articulate. Read more here.
Blashphemy, Religious, and Moral Scrupulosity Obsessions
Obsessions can also take the form of obsessive fears around being bad, guilty, and fears of committed/having committed sin, offending god, or compulsive prayer, even in non-religious sufferers of OCD. Other presentations include fearing they might be implicitly prejudiced or biased in some way against their values. More info coming soon.
Magical Thinking & Superstitious Obsessions
Obsessions commonly take the form of magical thinking, for example fearing that having a thought means it will be more likely to come true, or having to engage in repetitive compulsions or avoidance driven by superstition, even if they do not necessarily rationally believe in these rituals "Just in case". More info coming soon.
OCD Therapy & Treatment
Several therapeutic approaches have been found to be effective for the treatment of OCD, with widely researched therapies such as CBT (i.e., ERP) as well as some more experimental treatment approaches showing promise. More info coming soon.
Page Author: Caspar Wenn,
The OCS Clinic Director & Principal Psychologist