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"OCD is like having a bully stuck inside your head."

  - Krissy McDermott                

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can really impact your way of life. It is a debilitating cycle of unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images, or urges that trigger intense emotions (i.e., obsessions). Because these emotions are uncomfortable, we often seek to decrease them or get rid of the obsessions (i.e., compulsions). Decreasing stress levels is not a bad thing and most people have some obsessive thoughts at some point in their lives; the problem is when obsessions or compulsions inhibit our way of life. If you find that your obsessions or compulsions occupy much of your time or obstruct you from doing what is important in your life then it may be time to consider help.

Common Types of OCD

There are several types of OCD: contamination, doubts about one’s ability to control oneself, fear of harming others, unacceptable taboo thoughts, scrupulosity, and needing things to be “just right.” Although there are other types of OCD, these are the most common. Below, is a list the common obsessions and compulsions that accompany each type of OCD, as copied from the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF)

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Common Obsessions in OCD [2]


  • Body fluids (examples: urine, feces)

  • Germs/disease (examples: herpes, HIV)

  • Environmental contaminants (examples: asbestos, radiation)

  • Household chemicals (examples: cleaners, solvents)

  • Dirt

Losing Control

  • Fear of acting on an impulse to harm oneself

  • Fear of acting on an impulse to harm others

  • Fear of violent or horrific images in one’s mind

  • Fear of blurting out obscenities or insults

  • Fear of stealing things


  • Fear of being responsible for something terrible happening (examples: fire, burglary)

  • Fear of harming others because of not being careful enough (example: dropping something on the ground that might cause someone to slip and hurt him/herself)

Obsessions Related to Perfectionism

  • Concern about evenness or exactness

  • Concern with a need to know or remember

  • Fear of losing or forgetting important information when throwing something out

  • Inability to decide whether to keep or to discard things

  • Fear of losing things

Unwanted Sexual Thoughts

  • Forbidden or perverse sexual thoughts or images

  • Forbidden or perverse sexual impulses about others

  • Obsessions about sexual orientation.

  • Sexual obsessions that involve children or incest

  • Obsessions about aggressive sexual behavior towards others

Religious Obsessions (Scrupulosity)

  • Concern with offending God, or concern about blasphemy

  • Excessive concern with right/wrong or morality

Other Obsessions

  • Concern with getting a physical illness or disease (not by contamination, e.g. cancer)

  • Superstitious ideas about lucky/unlucky numbers certain colors

Common Compulsions in OCD [3]

Washing and Cleaning

  • Washing hands excessively or in a certain way

  • Excessive showering, bathing, tooth-brushing, grooming ,or toilet routines

  • Cleaning household items or other objects excessively

  • Doing other things to prevent or remove contact with contaminants


  • Checking that you did not/will not harm others

  • Checking that you did not/will not harm yourself

  • Checking that nothing terrible happened

  • Checking that you did not make a mistake

  • Checking some parts of your physical condition or body


  • Rereading or rewriting

  • Repeating routine activities (examples: going in or out doors, getting up or down from chairs)

  • Repeating body movements (example: tapping, touching, blinking)

  • Repeating activities in “multiples” (examples: doing a task three times because three is a “good,” “right,” “safe” number)

Mental Compulsions

  • Mental review of events to prevent harm (to oneself others, to prevent terrible consequences)

  • Praying to prevent harm (to oneself others, to prevent terrible consequences)

  • Counting while performing a task to end on a “good,” “right,” or “safe” number

  • “Cancelling” or “Undoing” (example: replacing a “bad” word with a “good” word to cancel it out)

Other Compulsions

  • Putting things in order or arranging things until it “feels right”

  • Telling asking or confessing to get reassurance

  • Avoiding situations that might trigger your obsessions

If any of these symptoms resonate with you then feel free to reach out for a free phone consultation.



  • [1] International OCD Foundation

  • [2] Clark, David A.; & Radomsky, Adam S. (2014). Introduction: A global perspective on unwanted intrusive thoughts. Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders. Available online 18 February 2014. DOI: 10.1016/j.jocrd.2014.02.001 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211364914000128 

  • [3] Reprinted with permission by New Harbinger Publications, Inc. This is an adaptation of the OC Checklist which appears in S. Wilhelm & G. S. Steketee’s Cognitive Therapy for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder A Guide for Professionals (2006). www.newharbinger.com

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Serving Nassau and Suffolk Counties
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