OCD Concepts Part 3: Obsessions

OCD Concepts Part 3: Obsessions

An obsession is an idea, thought, impulse, or image that continually intrudes on a person’s mind. In this context, the idea of thought, impulse, or image is fear-provoking and causes anxiety. Everyone with OCD experiences obsessions but may not be able to label them as such. Part three of OCD Concepts explores obsessions.

The content of obsessions is contrary to one’s values, exasperating the fear response.

Obsessions are not positive or wanted.

When assessing for obsessions we explore:

Content: What is the idea, thought, impulse, or image?
Distress: What response do these intrusions elicit?

Control: How are these intrusions affecting one’s life?

There are subtypes of obsessions and the lists are widely available online. We are not including that list here because everyone with OCD experiences the disorder differently and symptoms are incredibly nuanced. Rather than a list of subtypes, consider the following:

  1. Do you have thoughts, ideas, impulses or images that you cannot seem to control?
  2. Do they upset you?
  3. Do they happen frequently?
  4. Are these thoughts, etc., wanted?

Answer key: A “yes” response to questions 1-3 and a no response to question 4 warrant a further assessment by an OCD specialist.

Was this crash course in obsessions helpful in your understanding of OCD? How? Leave us your comments!

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Our clinicians are OCD and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) specialists. We understand OCD as it manifests in the pediatric and adult populations, families, schools, and the workplace. We utilize ERP to break the cycle of OCD individually and systemically to help you achieve your goals. Read more about our services.

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