OCD Disorder, what is it?

Obsessions are the mental component of OCD. They are thoughts, images, or impulses that repeatedly enter the mind, and feel out of the individual’s control. The person with OCD does not want to have these ideas, finds them intrusive, and usually at some point has recognized that they don’t truly make sense. This is an important feature of obsessions, as it helps to distinguish them from other non-OCD symptoms such as worry or depressive preoccupations, and from other human experiences like fantasy. Obsessions are accompanied by troubling feelings that can take many forms, such as fear or apprehension, anxiety, disgust, tension, or a sensation that things are “not just right.”

Recent research shows that the symptoms of OCD follow a few broad themes; within these themes, obsessions can take a countless number of forms. Common examples include the following:

• Contamination (e.g., fears of germs, dirtiness, chemicals, AIDS, cancer)
• Symmetry or exactness (e.g., of belongings, spoken or written words, the way one moves or completes actions)
• Doubting (e.g., whether appliances are turned off, doors are locked, written work is accurate, etc.)
• Aggressive Impulses (e.g., thoughts of stabbing one’s children, pushing loved ones into traffic, etc.)
• Accidental Harm to Others (e.g., fears of contaminating or poisoning a loved one, or of being responsible for a break in or a fire)
• Religion (e.g., sexual thoughts about a holy person, satanic thoughts, distressing thoughts regarding morality)
• Sexual (e.g., thoughts about personally upsetting sexual acts)
• Other miscellaneous obsessions having to do with themes such as lucky or unlucky colors or numbers, or with the need to know “trivial” details (e.g., house numbers, license plates)