What Do OCD Thoughts Consist Of?
It is normal for people to experience negative, unwanted thoughts and feelings every so often. However, if these thoughts and feelings occur so frequently that they impede a person’s ability to lead a functional, healthy life on a daily basis, it could be an indicator of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). According to MedicineNet.com, “the individual who suffers from OCD becomes trapped in a pattern of repetitive thoughts and behaviors that are senseless and distressing but extremely difficult to overcome.” OCD treatment typically consists of medication or psychotherapy. In order for those that suffer with the disorder to maximize OCD treatment, it is important to understand OCD thoughts and the processes that the obsessive-compulsive mind goes through.
Triggers are the first step in the loop of symptoms of OCD; they are stimuli that act as a catalyst for obsessive thoughts. These can be anything at all, including touching something thought to be contaminated, leaving the house, thoughts of committing violent acts, and sexual thoughts; triggers lead to distressing thoughts, images, or feelings. Aside from triggers, negative thought evaluation, self-monitoring, demand for certainty, thought-action fusion, thought suppression, thought control, compulsions, and trigger avoidance all factor into the way of person experiences OCD thoughts
- Fear of hurting oneself or others
- Intrusive sexual and violent thoughts
- Religious/moral fixation
- Need for order/symmetry
- Extreme superstition
- Excessive double-checking
- Repeatedly checking on loved ones
- Excessive praying
- Counting, tapping, or repeating words
- Excessive washing and cleaning
- Carefully arranging items
Negative thought evaluation occurs because of the dissonance between the ideal way a person believes they should think/feel, and the reality of negative, unwanted feelings. Individuals with OCD believe that it is their responsibility to control or eliminate these thoughts, which leads to self-monitoring.
When self-monitoring, individuals attempts to locate the negative thoughts and feelings within themselves, so that they eliminate them. This process is counterproductive due to the fact that to be able to do this, the distressing content must be rehashed time and time again. Concurrent with this is the demand for certainty; those affected by obsessive-compulsive disorder wish to know that they will not lose control, be contaminated, act violently, etc. “Nothing short of perfection and certainty will suffice,” says PsychologyToday.com
Next is thought-action fusion, where having a particular thought is associated with actually performing the action (i.e. thinking about being violent means that a person will be violent in real life). Thus, individuals try to suppress and control thoughts/feelings, which is ineffective. Experiencing obsessions causes people to believe they have lost control for not being able to stop the thoughts. In turn, compulsive behaviors are provoked.
Compulsions are, “repetitive behaviors or thoughts that a person uses with the intention of neutralizing, counteracting, or making their obsessions go away,” states The International OCD Foundation. These rituals are repeated until people believe they have the behaviors sufficiently. Common compulsive behaviors include hand washing and checking (i.e. repetitively ensuring the stove is off).
Lastly, there is the avoidance of triggers. The logic here is that if triggers can be avoided, obsessions will not occur. Those with obsessive-compulsive disorder will avoid touching or doing certain things, as well as coming into contact with specific people, so that the likelihood of experiencing obsessions is reduced.
OCD thoughts and behaviors have the ability to drastically impede an individual’s level of functionality. The disorder is composed of intrusive thoughts, images, or feelings, which are called obsessions. In order to alleviate the anxiety brought on by obsessions, compulsions – ritualistic, neutralizing behaviors – are carried out. Those with OCD have a unique way of processing thoughts and feelings, which needs to be understood if a person hopes to get the most benefit out of any OCD treatment he or she may receive.
Although there is no direct cure for OCD yet, there are medications and treatments that are being tested in clinical trials. If you are interested in enrolling in Los Angeles clinical studies for OCD, contact the Pacific Institute of Medical Research, which is an independent clinical research site specializing in psychiatry since 1982. Visit us online or call us at (310) 208-7144.