What is OCD?

The following information about OCD was borrowed from www.peaceofmind.com. The Peace of Mind Foundation has been extremely helpful to me, with my own OCD battle and also to my husband as he learned how to live with me! If you, or someone you know, battles OCD, visit www.peaceofmind.com for helpful information and resources.



Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a treatable neurobiological anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors (compulsions/rituals) such as counting, checking, praying, and cleaning, that are performed in an effort to relieve the anxiety caused by the obsessions.  OCD obsessions and compulsions can be extremely time-consuming causing significant emotional distress, and may greatly interfere with day to day functioning and interpersonal relationships.  Individuals with OCD may go to great lengths to hide their obsessions and compulsions due to embarrassment and shame.  It is estimated that one in every 40 adults, and one in every 100 children suffer with OCD.


Counting and checking rituals are performed with the hope of preventing obsessive and fearful thoughts or making them go away. Counting can be associated both with the need avoid danger and the obsession for symmetry and evenness. Checking rituals often involve an impulse to check door locks, light switches, faucets and stoves. These rituals are geared to preventing an error that could seriously impact another’s well-being. People with checking compulsions are plagued by feelings of irresponsibility and carelessness.


Pure obsessional OCD – sometimes referred to as “Pure O” is experienced by some individuals as obsessions that manifest as intrusive, unwanted thoughts, impulses or “mental images” of committing an act they consider to be harmful, violent, immoral, sexually inappropriate, or sacrilegious. For individuals with Pure Obsessional OCD, these thoughts can be frightening and tortuous precisely because they are so antithetical to their values and beliefs.


Fear of contamination is one of the more common obsessions and can result in the fear of touching surfaces, being touched by others, being coughed or sneezed upon, and wearing clothes that have come in contact with germs. Related compulsions include excessive and repeated handwashing, showering, bathing, and house cleaning. Individuals with contamination OCD frequently avoid people, public places, change clothes, and throw out any items they believe to be contaminated.


Individuals with Scrupulosity are plagued with obsessions about sin, offending God, religious or moral failings, and punishment.  They are burdened with worry whether something is ‘the right thing to do’ even in trivial matters, and often perform compulsions of repetitive prayer and religious rituals.


An overpowering internal sense that the balance, order, place, frequency or position of something is distrurbed and must be corrected.   It can be the spoken or written word, touch, feel, sound, or smell of something that is not ‘just right.’  The individual with ‘just right’ OCD often performs endless repetitions of ordinary tasks out of frustration that they are not ‘perfect’ or ‘just right.’  Touching and tapping, symmetry, ordering and arranging, perfectionism and counting can all be part of the rituals related to ‘just right’ OCD


Magical thinking is an illogical thought pattern characterized by the linking of unrelated actions or events. Individuals may become preoccupied with lucky or unlucky numbers, colors, words, actions, sayings or superstitions and link them to catastrophe or ‘bad things’ that might happen. The individual with ‘magical thinking’ OCD truly believes and lives by these rules and consequences, often with the belief that the mere act of thinking results in the realization of a feared event.


“Very Superstitious” by Fred Penzel, Ph.D.

  • Reciting or thinking of certain words, names, sounds, images, phrases, or numbers
  • Moving one’s body or gesturing in a special way
  • Stepping in special ways or on special spots when walking
  • Arranging objects or possessions in a special order
  • Performing physical actions in reverse
  • Thinking thoughts in reverse
  • Performing behaviors at special times or on particular dates
  • Repeating one’s own words, or the words of others
  • Touching certain things in a special way or a particular number of times


The acquisition of, and inability to discard, worthless items even though they appear (to others) to have no value. People with compulsive hoarding syndrome may have immense difficulty throwing anything away, from the oldest paper clip, to a used food container, to an out-of-date newspaper, for fear that they might need those items in the future. If they have any doubt at all as to the value of an object, no matter how trivial, they will keep it ‘just in case.’


1 thought on “What is OCD?

  1. This has been an amazing look at the inner me..guess I have an OCD delimá of long standing. Some nights at bedtime I choose to relive some verydisconcerting times in my life. The whole picture becomes so strong. As to keeping me awake and feeling of my forgiven sin. LIKE I cannot forgive myself. Deluging some hard and bad times.

Leave a Reply to Ilene Cash Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *