Uncertainty is a part of life. Many of us feel distress when faced with uncertainty. This makes sense, given that sometimes things do turn out badly, or not as we would like. Nevertheless, the “not knowing” can still be the worst part of a situation. So much so that avoiding uncertainty becomes an entrenched habit for some of us. Why is this universal aspect of the human experience so often a source of distress?[Read more…]
Obsessive compulsive disorder can have widely varying symptoms. If compulsions are absent, the condition is sometimes called “pure O” OCD. For those that suffer from sexual, violent, blasphemous or racist intrusive thoughts, it can feel unimaginable to tell anyone about their obsessions.
The “Pure O” variant of OCD
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) affects 1 to 2% of the population. That means in the U.S. alone, somewhere between three and seven million people have it. That’s a big group! OCD can look very different from one person in this group to the next.
What all these people have in common is that they experience obsessions and/or compulsions. Most have both. Those that experience only obsessions are sometimes said to have “pure O” OCD. This is not a formal category of OCD, but it’s a useful construct. Why? Because when most people think of OCD, they think of someone washing their hands constantly or fastidiously rearranging their desk. People with “pure O” OCD do not do anything outwardly that gives away their condition. But what are these obsessions, exactly?
What are obsessions?
Obsessions are thoughts that cause immediate anxiety. They are often described as intrusive and repetitive by those who have them.
We’ve touched upon violent obsessions that might be common for those with OCD in a previous post about fears of stabbing someone. I want to take some time to address other ‘bad’ thoughts that people sometimes have but feel they must keep to themselves.[Read more…]
Excessive hand washing
Many people with OCD engage in compulsive hand washing. This habit can become excessive, at times resulting in raw and broken skin. There are two ways that hand washing can get out of control: 1) time spent washing, and 2) frequency of washing.
Excessive hand washing may be the single most common observable symptom of OCD, and is probably the behavior most commonly associated with OCD. But how much is too much? Many people with OCD become quite comfortable washing their hands several times per day. However, the frequency can sometimes escalate, becoming a real impediment to living a “normal” life.[Read more…]
Could I really stab someone with a knife? What if I lost control? Thoughts and urges about hurting someone – against your will – characterize harm OCD.[Read more…]
OCD comes in many varieties. HOCD is one of them — and it involves obsessive thoughts about one’s sexual orientation. Read on for three stories of HOCD and recovery.
How Do Obsessive Thoughts Work?
Obsessive thoughts come in several varieties. Among the most popular themes for these thoughts are blasphemy, violence, and sex. Obsessions typically consist of a thought (e.g., “I want to pick up that knife and stab myself”) followed by intense anxiety at having had that thought. “Am I Gay?” is an obsessive thought that can create intense anxiety for some people.[Read more…]