Leigh Randa, PhD

Therapy with A Positive Belief in You.

Obsessions and OCD: What Kinds of Thoughts Are Considered Obsessions?

Some of the terms used to describe obsessive compulsive disorder can be misleading for those not familiar with the condition. For example, in casual terminology, the word “obsessions” is often used to describe deep desires that overwhelm the mind – for example, someone you are infatuated with, a sport that you watch daily, or a project that you really want to complete.

With OCD, “obsessions” has a different meaning. It is used to refer to thoughts of any kind that you simply cannot seem to stop thinking about. Unlike casual terminology, those with OCD do not want these thoughts, nor do they desire the object of the obsession. Instead, the thoughts overwhelm their mind, and cause them to feel distress.

The Many Types of Obsessions with OCD

When someone struggles with an obsession, they are struggling with an unwanted thought. Often that thought does not represent who they are or what they desire, yet it persists in a way that leads to severe stress. Examples include:

  • Fearful Thoughts – Some of the most common OCD thoughts are fearful thoughts. Examples include a fear of contamination (getting dirty/sick), a fear that someone will break in, or a fear that they forgot to do something that puts them or their loved ones in danger.
  • Sexual or Taboo Thoughts – Sexual obsessions can be very stressful, because they can lead to confusion about one’s own sexual desires. For example, an intrusive sexual thought may be about sex with a family member or animal, sex with a child or children, or persistent thoughts about performing a specific sexual behavior. In these cases, the individuals do not with to act out these thoughts, but they may worry that the thoughts mean something about them.
  • Violent Thoughts – Performing or becoming the victim of violence is also a common obsession in OCD. Even though the person does not wish to be violent, they have intrusive thoughts about committing violent acts.
  • Sinning and Religion – In strict religious families and households, some people struggle with a fear of sinning. This is characterized by fearing hell, worrying about actions, and becoming concerned that they may wish to commit a sinful act in the future.
  • Chaos and Lack of Control – There are also obsessions with order. These are often referred to as “symmetry or exactness” obsessions. The person may feel concerned about losing control. They may also struggle with this idea that if things aren’t “just right” someone or something may get hurt.

The thoughts themselves may also be unique to you. If they are intrusive (they come at times you don’t want them) and they are persistent, they are often considered to be obsessions.

Understanding OCD to Treat It

The greater the understanding about obsessive compulsive disorder, the easier it is to guide treatment. If you are interested in discussing how to treat obsessive compulsive disorder in Kansas City, please consider calling me today at 858-224-3767.

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