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Common OCD Subtypes

Contamination OCD

Strong fears about contracting an illness, spreading contaminants to others, and/or experiencing the feeling of being "dirty." Contaminants may include, but are not limited to, bodily secretions, chemicals, and people who are coughing or otherwise appear ill.  Contaminants can also be magical, including bad numbers, an unlucky clothing item, or a word or person that is deemed "bad."

Common Compulsions:

1.) Excessive hand washing, showering, and/or cleaning

2.) Avoiding coming in contact with people/places/items identified as "contaminated," or using a barrier to do so

3.) Frequently changing clothes and/or doing laundry

4.) Repeatedly seeking reassurance, via online or through family/friends, about whether an item is safe/clean

5.) Repeated prayers or neutralization of "contaminated" thoughts

Harm OCD  (Violent/Sexual/Pedophilia OCD)

Intrusive thoughts (and/or images) about accidentally causing harm - physically, sexually, and/or emotionally.  These obsessions can take several forms, including, but not limited to, the fear of hitting, stabbing, mutilating, or sexually molesting others (including children), running a pedestrian over with your car (hit-and-run OCD), and/or accidentally screaming out negative and highly charged comments. 

Common Compulsions:

1.) Avoiding items that can cause harm (knives, scissors, etc..) or hiding them out of sight, avoiding close contact with individuals that are the subject of your intrusive thoughts, keeping your hands occupied or in your pockets

2.) For hit-and-run obsessions, frequently checking the rearview mirror, driving around the block, inspecting the car for signs of damage, checking the local news for accidents in areas where you've been, avoiding driving alone

3.) For pedophilia obsessions, avoiding close proximity to children (including your own), trying to confirm or disprove your obsessions by testing your thoughts/feelings in the presence of children (in real life, or in pictures)

4.) Keeping your mouth occupied with a piece of candy or gum, replaying conversations (while making note of others' facial reactions and behaviors) to provide any evidence of saying a hurtful comment

"Just Right"/Symmetry OCD

Obsessions involve a feeling of "incompleteness," generated when something is not performed in a "just right" manner. For some, but not all, magical thinking may show up, in which you believe the incomplete feeling is a sign that something bad will happen.

Common Compulsions:

1.) Engaging in repetitive behaviors until a feeling of "rightness" is achieved,  Repetitive behaviors include, but are not limited to, tapping or twisting motions, repeating oneself in conversation, or asking others to repeat what they've said, rereading and rewriting words/paragraphs, and rewinding behaviors

2.) Evening out the feeling between your right and left sides

3.) Ensuring an item is placed perfectly/symmetrically

Sexual Orientation OCD

Experiencing intrusive thoughts that question your sexuality.  You may continuously question whether you are attracted to the same or opposite sex, and if you're currently in a relationship, wonder if you are living a lie, and have hidden sexual desires that are trying to come out.

Common Compulsions:

1.) Testing sexual feelings by looking at attractive individuals (or photos) of the opposite, or same, sex

2.) Closely monitoring the way you walk, talk, and gesture, to see if they align with someone who is straight or gay

3.) Monitoring your feelings during intimate moments, and questioning a lack of sexual feelings during moments when you feel you should experience them

4.) Repeatedly researching ways to determine your sexuality

Relationship OCD

Obsessions may center around how "right" the relationship feels, with doubts about your own feelings towards your partner, and your partner's feelings towards you.  For others, obsessions may include focusing on specific features/imperfections of your partner (facial features, personality, intelligence, etc...), and questioning if your partner is good enough, or "the one."

Common Compulsions:

1.) Comparing how you feel while looking at your partner vs. looking at others

2.) Frequent research to determine what the "right" relationship looks like

3.) Comparing your relationship with other relationships

4.) Excessive questioning, including trying to figure out what it means when you catch yourself not thinking about your partner, or not experiencing a feeling you think you "should" be feeling, especially during intimate moments

5.) Avoiding sexual intimacy, watching romantic TV shows/movies, attending certain social events, or other activities that will triggers obsessions about your relationship

Existential/Philosophical OCD

Obsessions involve repetitive thoughts about the meaning of life, your purpose, and why you're here.  You may also question what is "real," for example, "How do I know I'm awake right now and not dreaming?"

Common Compulsions:

1.) Trying to "figure out" answers to life's questions, either in your mind, or via research/Googling

2.) Excessive thinking about why you're having these thoughts and what they mean

3.) Distraction and/or trying to figure out ways to get these thoughts out of your head

4.) Continuously bringing these questions up in conversation with others, hoping to find answers

Postpartum OCD

Intrusive thoughts (and/or images) about causing harm to your baby.  Obsessions may include, but are not limited to, dropping, drowning, stabbing, inappropriately touching, or accidentally poisoning your baby in some way.  

Common Compulsions:

1.) Avoiding being alone with your baby, changing diapers, giving baths, and preparing formula

2.) Frequent requests for reassurance that you are a good mom/person and will not cause harm

3.) Repeatedly checking on your baby, including in the middle of the night, to ensure he/she is safe

3,) Repeating prayers and positive words to try and prevent harm

Scrupulosity/Religious OCD

Obsessions involving the fear of committing a sin or violating a moral code.  Individuals may worry excessively about having blasphemous thoughts and/or images, going to hell, and being punished.

Common Compulsions:

1.) Repeatedly confessing

2.) Neutralizing "bad" thoughts with "good" thoughts

3.) Repeatedly reciting prayers and/or reading scriptures

4.) Reassurance seeking from family, friends, religious figures, or the internet

5.) Avoidance of situations where you may feel likely to act immorally

Sensorimotor/Hyperawareness OCD

Excessive focus and concern with bodily processes, including, but not limited to, breathing, blinking, swallowing, and your heartbeat. Fears typically involve the idea that you will not be able to stop thinking about these processes, and will forever focus on them, at the cost of your well-being.

Common Compulsions:
1.) Frequent attempts at distraction

2.) Avoiding places where awareness of these processes is likely to increase

3.) Repeated attempts to control a sensation (ex. ensuring deep breaths, controlling the frequency of blinks, etc...)

4.) Monitoring of your attention (to see if focused on a bodily sensation or not)

5.) Mental rituals, including counting, repeating certain phrases, or prayers to neutralize your fears