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Obsessive compulsive disorder behavior

Obsessions and compulsions are essentially different and it is important to recognise that both obsessions and compulsions can take a variety of forms. Let's look at obsessive compulsive behavior in terms of each component.

An obsession can be a thought, an image or impulse and is often a combination of two, or even all three of these. Some clinical examples of obsessions are the thought that one has a terminal illness; the thought plus visual image that one may have knocked someone down while driving; the thought, “I am a Lesbian”; the impulse to shout obscenities during prayer or a church service; images of corpses rotting away; thoughts of serious accident or harm occurring to someone in the family; the thought that one will not survive past the age of 28; the thought that one may have strangled children or pets.

A compulsion, on the other hand is more like an overt behaviour, like checking a door handle and washing hands repeatedly. It can also be a covert behaviour, such as the silent utterance of words in a fixed sequence. Examples of compulsions are: repeated and extensive washing of hands to get rid of contamination by germs; checking gas taps, door handles and electric switches three times each time one passes them; imagining in sequence the photographs of spouse, children and parents, pictures of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary, and then photographs of two other persons; saying silently a string of words whenever he hears or reads of any disaster or accident; cleaning and washing around bed and nearby wall to get rid of germs and dirt; visualizing everything that was said to him in conversations and what he was going to say in response; collecting and hoarding various useless items.

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