Pure OCD – when thoughts are pathological


Mental illness is a tricky beast.  It’s difficult to recognise when you’re in the midst of it.  I’m now more aware of when I’m feeling down.  I then take steps to get outside in the sun, force myself to do some exercise, or just be kind to myself.  But realising you’re in the midst of obsessive thoughts going nowhere is harder for me, because at the time it feels like a realistic and important issue.  I guess more mindfulness will help with this.

A few weeks ago I was thinking about these obsessive loops I get into.  It’s a bit like suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder, except I don’t have the compulsions.  And then I discovered this is actually a thing.

Primarily obsessional obsessive compulsive disorder is a form of OCD where fewer observable and repetitive compulsive behaviour takes place.  However neutralisation of the disturbing thoughts still takes place using cognitive means.  The sufferer copes with the disturbing thoughts by mentally avoiding the issue, or by excessively ruminating on the “problem”.

The “problem” usually takes the form of a disturbing or intrusive thought or question, an inappropriate mental image or frightening impulse.  The thoughts “typically center on a fear that you may do something totally uncharacteristic of yourself” and usually centers on what you perceive as the most terrible action you could take.

Examples of obsessive thoughts I’ve had in the past:

  • Did I insult (bad) or upset (even worse!!)  XYZ when I made that comment (Apparently this was something I have in common with my Grandmother as she used to worry about this as well!)
  • Did I embarrass myself in front of people when I did ABC
  • If I don’t do XYZ (Donate to charity, help someone, etc) God will punish me/something bad will happen

Other examples of this form of OCD that fortunately I don’t suffer from (From Wikipedia article)

  • Responsibility: with an excessive concern over whether you’ve harmed someone
  • Sexuality: including recurrent doubt over one’s sexual orientation (also called HOCD or “homosexual OCD”).
  • Violence: involving a fear of violently harming oneself or loved ones or persistent worry that one is a pedophile and might harm a child.
  • Religiosity: manifesting as intrusive thoughts or impulses revolving around blasphemous and sacrilegious themes.
  • Health: including consistent fears of having or contracting a disease (different from hypochondriasis) through seemingly impossible means
  • Relationship obsessions (ROCD): Fearing that you don’t really love your partner, or they are not the right person for you.

The main reason I wanted to share this is because many people suffer from this form of OCD without realising it and don’t reach out for help.  Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (with professional assistance) is very effective, and so is certain anti-depressants.   The sad part of this illness is that it’s invisible – there isn’t any repetitive/compulsive behaviour to indicate there’s a problem.

If you feel you may suffer from something like this, find someone trusted to talk to, rather than bottling it up!


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