Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) gets a person caught in persistent thought patterns and behaviors. Obsessive thoughts occupy their mind and compel them to repeat behaviors. They cannot resist the urge to repeat their behaviors. Even if they try to do so, they might experience anxiety to the point where they have no option but to give in to persistent urges.
Three key elements of OCD
- Obsession – Obsessive thoughts keep the mind of the individual preoccupied with an unwanted and unreasonable idea, image, feeling, or desire.
- Emotion – When the urge to fulfill an obsession shows up, it drives the individual to satisfy it. The compulsion happens as the individual develops intense anxiety or distress.
- Compulsion – The intrusive thoughts and obsessions drive them to satisfy their urges and get stuck in a behavioral pattern.
Almost every individual has experienced some kind of obsession, which is very normal. It is only abnormal in the case of a person who has OCD, as he gets stuck in a pattern of obsessive behavior, which causes them to persistently experience uncontrollable thoughts and urges, which makes them repeat those behaviors until they feel completely satisfied. Their minds may get completely occupied with obsessive images, thoughts, emotions, and feelings, which are unavoidable. They may try avoiding such urges by diverting their minds but in vain.
People’s obsession often gets developed around the following things:
Fear of contracting any disease or infection-related obsessions
People with this condition may develop a fear of getting contaminated with bacteria and germs, which makes them constantly worry about their hygiene. They may develop a strong urge frequently to wash their hands repeatedly and bathe several times a day, which is a way to overcome their fear for some time. They become obsessed with washing their hands and they may even avoid touching other people or visiting some places, due to the fears of getting contaminated with germs, bacteria, and fungus, that can lead to illness, disease, or infection.
Need for symmetry and perfection-related obsessions
This can make the person obsessed with symmetry and orderliness. It causes them to focus excessively on how things appear, how they are kept – are they kept in alignment, are they arranged perfectly, does it look symmetrical, and so on. Exactness and orderliness occupy their minds.
Fear of causing harm to oneself or others
A person with these types of obsessions can become very fearful of harming oneself and even others. Their minds remain occupied with the worst-case scenarios and horrific images, which causes great anxiety. Let us suppose, a mother with this condition constantly worries about her child getting hurt by household objects like knives or any other sharp objects, so she will persistently check whether these objects are kept away from the reach of children. She will repeatedly keep checking it to ensure the safety of her children.
People with sexual obsessions may get unwanted thoughts about sex and related things. They may develop a fear of sex impulse. They may get fearful about getting sexual urges toward children, friends, relatives, and others because it is very tough for them to get rid of those thoughts and obsessive patterns. In some cases, such people may show aggressive sexual behavior that can be extremely harmful.
Fear of being held responsible for wrong deeds
Such people may get obsessed with the fear of being held responsible or accused of some illegal or unethical activity, which is condemnable by society.
People with OCD are forced or compelled to repeat some kind of behavior that they may find ridiculous. Logically, these compulsive behaviors may not even make any sense, despite that, the person feels driven to do them due to the distress or anxiety that follows when the urge arises. Compulsive behaviors can be time-consuming or sometimes even very unpleasant, however, the person simply cannot avoid them.
Some common compulsions in OCD include:
Repeating some body movements (tic disorders), wherein the person may blink their eyes repeatedly, have jerking movements of the head, and other body parts, or do shoulder shrugging persistently. Besides, some people may repeat the day-to-day activities several times, or perform some activity in multiples.
Compulsions for hygiene
The person becomes very consumed in activities like cleaning, washing, and sanitizing, to prevent the contamination of germs and bacteria. Some may wash their hands several times a day, or even bathe several times to get relief from the anxiety. Some people may repeatedly clean their house many times unless they feel relieved. This might exhaust them, but compulsions are unavoidable.
Checking and making sure everything, especially objects, are arranged in an orderly manner and looks perfect. For such people, things must feel right, otherwise, they will keep arranging things until they get them perfectly done according to them.
Compulsions about repeatedly checking if everything is fine and nothing terrible has happened. Keep checking whether the doors are locked. Or there is no mistake, and so on.