Obsessive Compulsive Disorders
Mental Health Treatment, Boise, ID

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an illness that has psychological symptoms but is thought to have a biological cause. In some cases, extreme anxiety may be characterized by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors ranging from mild to severe. It is the extreme form of this behavior that is symptomatic of the neurobiological disorder OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), usually requiring medical intervention.

Obsessions: Obsessions are unwanted, recurrent, and persistent ideas, thoughts, impulses, or mental images that intrude into normal thinking, are unpleasant, and for the most part senseless. They are recognized by the anxious person as being irrational or silly but persist and cannot be ignored or suppressed.

Compulsions: Compulsions are repetitive ritualized behaviors that a person feels driven to perform. In order to get rid of the obsessive thoughts or ward off danger, the person with OCD will engage in certain compulsive behaviors. He/She will feel a cause and effect connection between his/her obsessive thoughts and performing certain compulsive acts. He/She will think that if he/she performs this certain act, the obsessive thought will go away or the danger will be averted. The person may recognize that both obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors are excessive and unreasonable but be unable to stop them by willpower or the persuasion of others. Many well-organized, conscientious people have obsessive-compulsive personality traits reflected in a preoccupation with details and the need for perfection and control. These traits are considered problems only in the extreme. Some people experience obsessive tendencies or compulsive urges from time to time throughout their lives.

Common themes to obsessive thoughts:

  • Incessant worries about dirt, germs, or contamination
  • Recurrent thoughts that something has not been done properly, even when the person knows it has
  • Feeling that certain things must always be in a certain place, position, or order
  • Concern or disgust with bodily wastes or secretions
  • Fears of losing or misplacing something of importance
  • Forbidden, aggressive, or pervasive sexual thoughts, images, or impulses
  • Fear one has hurt someone, repeated impulses to commit violent acts towards a loved person
  • Intrusive nonsensical words, thoughts, numbers, or music

Compulsive behaviors may include the following:

  • Cleaning or washing rituals
  • Repeating rituals such as putting on clothes and then taking them off, going indoors and then going outdoors, getting up and down from chairs, touching certain objects in a repetitive manner, restarting phrases, rereading
  • Checking rituals involving door locks, light switches, homework
  • Taking irrational measures such as hanging clothes a certain way or putting all sharp objects out of sight to prevent harm to oneself or others
  • Hoarding so that nothing of value will be lost or collecting useless objects
  • Having to do something exceedingly slowly to feel that it is done properly

Obsessive disorder is treatable with a combination of psychiatric medications and cognitive behavioral therapy. Many medications used to treat anxiety and/or psychosis are effective in treating OCD. Furthermore, working with an experienced therapist in some type of cognitive behavioral process is very important for the overall treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder.