Pure Obsessional OCD – Symptoms and Treatment
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or OCD is a mental health condition that is comprised of obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors that are employed to neutralize the anxiety created by distressing and intrusive obsessions. OCD can affect people of all ages, gender, and race and there are many different subtypes of types of OCD.
What is Pure Obsessional OCD (Pure O)?
“Pure O,” although not a distinct subtype within itself, is characterized by distressing and intrusive thoughts that are not accompanied by overt, observable, or physical compulsions, although mental compulsions and those of a more covert nature do take place. Many people mistakenly assume that “Pure O” implies that no compulsions occur; rather, compulsions are most certainly present but are more likely to occur within one’s own mind and are less likely to be visible to others.
Common Obsessions of Pure Obsessional OCD
The obsessions that occur within “Pure O” can vary substantially from one person to the next, but generally can cause you to believe that you are flawed or a bad person and will plague your mind with fear, doubt, shame, and anxiety. For example, a mother with “Pure O” may have intrusive thoughts of harming her child that cause her to feel like a terrible mother and to experience crippling doubt about whether she would ever want to harm her baby.
Some types of obsessions that may occur within “Pure O” include:
- Abhorrent sexual acts
- Doubt about your sexual orientation
- Doubt in your romantic partner
- Sacrilegious thoughts
- Thinking about somatic function (breathing, blinking, or swallowing)
Common Compulsions of Pure Obsessional OCD
The compulsions that are enacted when a person experiences “Pure O” OCD are often driven by the mental analysis of one’s obsessions, attempting to eliminate doubt caused by obsessions and find certainty, and trying desperately to find the answer behind unwanted, intrusive thoughts.
Common compulsions of “Pure O” include:
- Mentally reviewing memories, experiences, and past events to try to find certainty
- Mentally trying to ascertain what one’s intentions were in a given situation
- Using logic and rationale to try to neutralize the doubt created by obsessions
- Reassuring one’s self about motives and behavior
- Avoiding situations that may trigger your obsessions
- Performing superstitious rituals in order to lower your anxiety
- Seeking reassurance from others
Treatment for Pure Obsessional OCD
People suffering from OCD are encouraged to seek treatment from a mental health treatment provider that specializes in the treatment of OCD. OCD specialists are equipped and prepared to treat a wide array of OCD subtypes, including OCD that presents as “Pure O.” Like all types of OCD, this form of OCD can be treated with Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), specifically with treatment approaches called Exposure with Response Prevention (ERP), and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.
Mindful-Based CBT teaches patients that everyone experiences intrusive thoughts. Individuals will also learn that intrusive thoughts have no power over them and that by responding to their thoughts through compulsive behaviors, their thoughts are given more strength and credibility and their fears and obsessions are strengthened and reinforced. Mindfulness-Based CBT is a very effective OCD treatment, especially when combined with ERP.
ERP exposes patients to situations related to their intrusive thoughts that cause them anxiety. The goal of this treatment is for the patient to prevent himself or herself from completing their compulsive behaviors when triggered by intrusive thoughts. The situations that are confronted will intensify over time, until the patient can face and overcome their most feared scenario. Once they are able to stop themselves from responding to their intrusive thoughts with compulsive behaviors, they can experience tremendous relief from the symptoms of OCD.
If patients are suffering from severe levels of anxiety due to their OCD, they may benefit from participating in treatment at an Intensive Outpatient (IOP) OCD treatment program, as is offered by The Gateway Institute. The Gateway Institute offers Intensive Outpatient treatment options as well as regular outpatient psychotherapy sessions, and a free, 30 minute face-to-face consultation with one of our experienced and caring clinicians at all three of our beautiful locations in Orange County, Scottsdale, Arizona, and the San Francisco Bay Area. OCD symptoms typically worsen over time and can take over a person’s life, so it is very important to seek OCD treatment as soon as possible with a skilled and dedicated OCD specialist who can provide expertise and support during this journey.
Other Common Sub-Types of OCD
It is not uncommon for an individual suffering from one OCD sub-type to also suffer from other sub-types. Treating co-occurring sub-types simultaneously is important in finding balance and healing from OCD.
The Gateway Institute is here to support you in getting the help that you need.
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