Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder For Dummies
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OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) can be categorized in quite a few ways, and no clear consensus exists among professionals. However, the following list shows some of the most common forms that this strange disorder takes:

  • Contamination: Fears of dirt, germs, and various kinds of toxins. Contamination worries frequently lead to excessive focus on cleanliness and hand-washing.

  • Doubting and Checking: Fears of having caused harm to one’s house or someone else through negligence. Doubting and Checking OCD often leads to compulsive checking of locks, appliances, and possible victims.

  • Inappropriate thoughts: Fears of acting extremely inappropriately by engaging in shameful acts, or displeasing God. This type of OCD often causes people to engage in various rituals in order to stop them from losing control.

  • Symmetry: Discomfort with asymmetry and having things out of place. Symmetry concerns lead to a compulsive need to have everything arranged “just so.”

  • Hoarding: Fears of discarding potentially useful items. Hoarding leads to collecting gone wild, resulting in rooms and homes filled with useless junk.

  • Superstitions: Obsessional fears about unlucky numbers, anything related to death, and specific words. Superstitious OCD leads to avoidance of these superstitions or attempts to neutralize their effects.

Various forms of OCD sometimes overlap and co-occur. If you have several of them, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your treatment won’t succeed.

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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