Obsessive thoughts, irrational fears and rituals — till some level we all do have them. How to understand if your behaviour isn't something you want to discuss with a psychologist? Symptoms of people with OCD:
- They try to make deals with themselves
- They experience a compulsive need to perform some irrational rituals
- It is hard to convince them their habits are senseless
- Normally they remember when their symptoms begun
Obsessions are unwanted thoughts, motives or images, the presence of which causes vivid discomfort or anxiety. The dominant theme of obsessive thoughts can be harm or risk to oneself and others, danger, infection, doubt, loss or aggression. For example, patients may be haunted by the thought of contracting bacteria through dirt if they do not wash their hands every 2 hours or more often. Obsessions are unpleasant for the patient. Therefore, they try to ignore and/or suppress these thoughts, motives, or images. Or neutralize them by performing compulsions.
Compulsions (often called "rituals") are excessive, repetitive behaviors, which help patients to prevent or reduce anxiety caused by obsessive thoughts, or to neutralize obsessive thoughts themselves. Examples:
- Washing (e.g. hand washing, showering)
- Check (for example, whether the stove is off, the doors are locked)
- Counting (e.g. repeating a certain behavior a number of times)
- Organizing (for example, organizing a desktop or kitchenware according to a certain scheme)
Most rituals, such as washing hands or checking locks, are obvious, but some rituals, such as silent counts or statements under your breath, are not seen by others. Usually, compulsive rituals must be performed in a certain way in strict accordance with rules.