Dave Payne, LPCC, BC-TMH

OCD

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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder isn't the simple "I-like-things-really-organized" condition that it's often made out to be in the media.  If you happen to have the type of OCD that causes you to obsess about orderliness, the thought process might look a lot more like "If things aren't completely organized in just the right way, something truly catastrophic will definitely happen to me or a loved one."  That's real OCD.

As the name implies, OCD is characterized by obsessions and compulsions. 

OBSESSIONS

Obsessions can come in the form of thoughts (or mental images) and/or urges.  These obsessions are usually quite disturbing and almost always represent an event/situation that you would want to avoid at all costs.  Examples include:

-"What if I accidentally left the stove on and the whole apartment complex burns down while I'm at work?"

-[While walking across a bridge] "What if I suddenly had an urge to jump?" (Note: this is not the same as wanting to harm oneself)

-"What if I suddenly punched this person standing in front of me?" (Note: not the same as wanting to hurt someone)

***Also note that the above examples are sugar-coated for the general public's viewing.  A lot of obsessions and intrusive thoughts are significantly more disturbing and violent. If you have these types of intrusive thoughts, you know what I’m talking about….***

COMPULSIONS

Compulsions are (usually repetitive) actions that you feel must be performed in order to alleviate the obsessions.  These are often clearly related to the obsessions (driving back home from work multiple times to make sure the stove is turned off), but can also appear to be unrelated (counting syllables in spoken sentences; avoiding stepping on lines in the sidewalk/street).  Also, some compulsive "actions" are entirely mental in nature, meaning there is no "action" that other people would be able to observe.  Your compulsion may simply be to mentally search for reassurance that your obsessive thoughts aren't true. Some of the most commonly referenced compulsions are:

-Checking all the door and window locks multiple times before going to bed.

-Washing hands repeatedly and excessively.

-Ordering things on a desk in a certain way (this isn’t the same as having a desire to be organized).

It is important to note that there are many, many different variations of obsessions and compulsions. 

INTRUSIVE THOUGHTS

This brings us to Intrusive Thoughts, in which you likely worry that you're secretly on the verge of "going crazy" (which is not a real psychological term).

If your thoughts have led you to worry that you may be crazy and/or dangerous (but you don’t actually like these thoughts at all), PLEASE CLICK ON THIS LINK FOR SOME REASSURING INFORMATION.