Defining Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD - dummies

Defining Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD

By Charles H. Elliott, Laura L. Smith

Part of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder For Dummies Cheat Sheet

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.