Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder For Dummies
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People with OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) have recurring obsessions — intrusive thoughts, images, or urges that are disturbing and cause distress. OCD sufferers also have compulsions — actions or words they use to reduce the distress brought on by their obsessive worries. Compulsions can include repetitive prayers, counting, touching things in certain ways, checking, and arranging items in special symmetrical ways.

Other features of OCD include:

  • Obsessions are unwanted and generally inconsistent with the sufferer’s morals and values.

  • OCD significantly interferes with daily life.

  • OCD sufferers attempt to suppress distressing thoughts but can’t.

  • The thoughts are coming from inside, not being broadcast by space aliens.

  • The compulsions must be done “correctly,” or they must be repeated.

  • The compulsions don’t really make a lot of sense.

  • OCD sufferers usually know that their obsessions and compulsions are unreasonable, but can’t stop them.

About This Article

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Charles H. Elliott, Ph.D.  (Corrales, New Mexico) is a clinical psychologist and a Founding Fellow in the Academy of Cognitive Therapy. He is also a member of the faculty at Fielding Graduate University. He specializes in the treatment of adolescents and adults with obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety, anger, depression, and personality disorders. He presents nationally and internationally on new developments in the assessment and therapy of emotional disorders.

Laura L. Smith, Ph.D. (Corrales, New Mexico) is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the assessment and treatment of adults and children with obsessive compulsive disorder, as well as personality disorders, depression, anxiety, ADHD, and learning disorders. She is often asked to provide consultations to attorneys, school districts, and governmental agencies. She presents workshops on cognitive therapy and mental health issues to national and international audiences.

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