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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, thought, impulse or image are fear provoking and cause 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 warrants a further assessment by an OCD specialist. 

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