If you have OCD you may have an over inflated sense of responsibility. This means that you believe you have the power to either cause or prevent bad events that are personally important to you. ‘Magical’ thinking, which is the act of performing special actions to prevent something happening (an extreme form of superstitious thinking), is closely related to this. It makes you feel more comfortable, as if you had more influence and control over what happens. With responsibility OCD, the sufferer places great importance on what they do, their actions, their thoughts, their decisions, most elements in their life become a challenge, as they often feel what they do will end up with catastrophic consequences. Things feel like life and death, like it does for any type of OCD.
Contamination OCD refers to the fear of becoming personally contaminated through one’s own actions, being contaminated by others, contaminating others, or different combinations of any of these. The fear of coming into contact with either real or magical things viewed as harmful. The real things may include viruses, bacteria, bodily waste or secretions, people who appear ill or unclean, poisons,· radiation, or toxic chemicals.The magical things may include bad luck, the names of illnesses, or the misfortunes of others. Often this can lead to a sufferer displaying the very common behavioural compulsion of hand washing although this is but the tip of the iceberg. Other behaviours can include avoiding certain places which my ‘feel’ contaminated, mentally ruminating about events, washing the entire body time and time again, asking others for reassurance. The list goes on.
checking and counting
Checking rituals can be a result of all types of obsessions, including fears of harming accidentally, fears of harming impulsively, or sexual obsessions. The purpose of compulsive checking is to reduce distress associated with uncertainty or doubt over feared consequences for oneself or others. For example, a person who worries about causing harm by not being careful enough, may have the thought that if they check that the door is locked, they will be assured that no one will break in.
Whereas some checking is cued by specific situations (e.g. leaving the house) and reminders (e.g. light switches), in other instances it is performed in response to random thoughts that just pop into the mind and are considered dangerous. People with these types of obsessions, may believe that if they think of a bad event, it is more likely to happen. Counting rituals is often a compulsion with many suffering from OCD. This is also closely related to feeling that everything needs to be symmetrical, counting a certain number of times until it feels right, or the inability to walk through a door threshold until it feels safe to do so.
Those suffering with Scrupulosity hold strict standards of religious, moral, and ethical perfection. For example, if held in a black and white view, certain passages in the Bible and other religious texts may carry with them intense burdens of condemnation. In holding a strict view of these religious verses, the Scrupulosity sufferer experiences not just intense guilt, but also anxiety about the threat of eternal punishment for having violated religious precepts. Without having chosen to experience these obsessions (OCD thoughts being both intrusive and unwanted), the individual experiencing Scrupulosity feels an overwhelming urge to take whatever compulsive action offers the promise of relief.
Perfectionism is one of the most common personality traits in OCD. Indeed, some researchers have described obsessive-compulsives as the ultimate perfectionists. There is an element of perfectionism that runs throughout almost any sub type of OCD. Perfection simply doesnt exist, howecer, this doesn't stop many people striving for what they believe perfect to be. Occasionally an individual may feel that trying to do everything perfectly is the main driver behind their OCD experience, in which case this would be classed as 'perfectionist' OCD as a sub type.
This form of OCD can manifest from an irrational belief that one has the power to control and prevent dangerous situation’s from happening and the distorted belief that one can control and prevent outcomes by doing safety seeking behaviours to prevent the imagined scenario from happening.
The imagination can play a great role in this type of OCD. The sufferer may have a fearful image pop in to their minds, and they become worried that the image may of happened. They struggle to separate imagination from reality.
This form of OCD is driven by the need to find the right answer. Pure O tends to manifest as a question followed by the need for certainty that leads to obsessional mental rumination. Like any compulsion, rumination can take up many hours of an OCD sufferers day. Where this type of OCD differs is that compulsions are purely non observable, meaning that they all take place within the mind through mental problem solving. Many clients that suffer from Pure O describe feeling exhausted almost all of the time. This is due to the amount of brain activity, and glucose that is being used during a period of rumination. The pre-frontal cortex is also over active during mental problem solving (the frontal region of the brain), leading to confusion and experiences of mental cloudiness.
Purely Obsessional OCD (Pure O)
Some people with OCD have obsessions surrounding the way objects are arranged. These people may feel very uncomfortable when confronted with situations where objects are misaligned or in disarray. On a related note, some people may be made uncomfortable when something does not appear perfect. They may not be able to tolerate having written something where the letters may be shaped imperfectly. Individuals with obsessions about symmetry and exactness may have magical thinking associated with their concerns. For example, they may worry that their mother will have accident unless things are in the right place. In other cases, the need for symmetry may just “feel right”.
A common form of OCD is health obsessions. The sufferer cannot find the reassurance they so desire and obsess they may have an illness that is life threatening. No matter how much reassurance they have they always doubt it.