• Emily Stetzer / 0 comments

9 Common Obsessions & Compulsions in OCD

The most amazing thing happens when you begin to educate yourself about OCD.

You learn that those irrational thoughts and fears — the same fears that you spent years trying to make sense of — turn out to be textbook OCD.

What’s even more powerful? Deciding to connect with others in the OCD community and discovering that there is another human out there (most likely waaaay more than one) who has thought the exact — and I mean EXACT — same things.

This life changing realization is what drove us to create Presently. To let others know that no matter how “crazy” you think you are, you are not alone.

Here are some of the most common OCD obsessions and compulsions (we could literally check all of these off our OCD bucket list... how about you?)


1. Obsession: Persistent Doubting

Example: Worry that the front door is unlocked, even after having just locked it

Compulsion: Checking

Going out of their way to check that the door is locked, e.g., driving back to the house or repeatedly getting out of bed

Best Presently Reminder: Embrace uncertainty


2. Obsession: Fear of contamination

Example: Constant anxiety of catching or spreading a disease

Compulsion: Cleaning

Example: Excessive washing of hands or personal items even after they are reasonably clean

Best Presently Reminder: Brave the uncomfortable


3. Obsession: Violent intrusive thoughts

Example: Intrusive, unwanted violent images of strangers, family or friends

Compulsion: "Undoing" thoughts

Repetitive neutralizing thoughts or seeking reassurance from others that a violent act was not committed

Best Presently Reminder: I am separate from my mind


4. Obsession: Fear of causing harm

Example: Fear of accidentally hitting a pedestrian while driving

Compulsion: Checking

Example: Driving past the crosswalks to check that there were no injured people

 Best Presently Reminder: Brave the uncomfortable


5. Obsession: Scrupulosity

Example: Overly concerned with behaving immorally and the idea of what is "right vs. wrong

Compulsion: Confessing

Excessive praying or feeling the need to confess. Avoiding situations thought to be morally wrong

  Best Presently Reminder: Embrace uncertainty


6. Obsession: Superstitions

Example: Preoccupation with lucky or unlucky numbers

Compulsion: Avoidance or counting

Avoiding writing unlucky numbers or repeating activities the "correct" number of times

Best Presently Reminder: I let go of what I can't control 


7. Obsession: Sexual Orientation

Fear of being in denial of one's "true" sexual orientation

Compulsion: Mental/Physical Checking

Analyzing self to see whether their behaviors align them with a particular sexual orientation

Best Presently Reminder: Embrace uncertainty


8. Relationship Uncertainty

Example: Excessive doubts about whether their partner is right for them

Compulsion: Reassurance seeking

Engaging in and analyzing behavior to find any evidence that the relationship will be successful

Best Presently Reminder: Embrace uncertainty



9. Existential Doubt

Example: Fear of the uncertainty of their human existence and perceptions of reality.

Compulsion: Mental Checking

Reviewing events of the day to see if they felt real or verify they actually happened.

Best Presently Reminder: My thoughts are passing clouds




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