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The 12 types of obsessions (symptoms and characteristics)

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Obsessions are thoughtsIntrusive, irrational and recurring ideas or images (that appear over and over again), and that feel out of control by the person who suffers them.

Usually, the obsessive person does not want to have these ideas or thoughts, what they usually cause anxiety or discomfort and try to avoid them. The behaviors that are carried out to avoid obsessions are called compulsions. This obsession-compulsion routine is what is known as OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder).

Characteristics of OCD

The irrational thoughts that can lead to compulsive acts can vary depending on the individual. Some people may have superstitious thoughts that cause anxiety, others may believe that everything is contaminated and must clean themselves to avoid illness, and others can take order to a pathological extreme because of perfectionist thoughts.

Obsessive people have some characteristics in common. According to him Obsessive-Compulsive Cognitions Working Group (OCCWG), the most important cognitive variables that affect this condition are:

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  • Perfectionism
  • Excessive responsibility
  • Beliefs of the importance of thoughts
  • Low tolerance for uncertainty
  • Threat overestimation
  • Little mental flexibility

Types of obsessions

Obsessions can be classified in different ways. But… What are these ways of classification?

Here is a list of the different kinds of obsessions.

According to the type of triggering stimulus

Depending on whether the obsession feels unacceptable or realistic, there are two types.

1. Autogenous obsessions

This type of ego-dystonic obsessions, that is, that they feel as disgusting, unacceptable, inconsistent with their own selfconcept. They appear abruptly in consciousness without the evocative stimuli being identified. They include sexual, aggressive, and immoral thoughts or impulses.

2. Reactive obsessions

These thoughts are perceived as realistic and rational and the evocative stimuli are external and identifiable. For example. the catastrophic thoughts, on contamination, on asymmetry, etc.

According to the content

The contents of obsessions may vary. These are the different types of obsession depending on the content.

3. Symmetrical or order obsessions

One of the most frequent obsessions has its origin in the need to have everything aligned symmetrically and correctly ordered. The compulsions associated with this type of obsession consist of ensuring that everything is in order and well placed, otherwise the subject would suffer great discomfort or anxiety.

Some characteristic behaviors of these types of thoughts are:

  • Have everything neat and clean in its place at all times.
  • Have pictures hung aligned and straight.
  • Have canned foods all the same.
  • Have the clothes on the rail all hanging perfectly and looking the same way.
  • Have everything impeccable, without marks or stains on windows and surfaces.

People with this type of OCD spend a lot of time trying to get everything perfect, which is why they are said to be perfectionists. In extreme cases, the person can prevent other individuals from going to her home so that nothing is left disorganized or out of place.

4. Pollution obsessions

As the name suggests, these people think that the environment may be polluted. For example, when they go to the bathroom, they think that when their skin comes into contact with the door cloth they may suffer some kind of disease. This makes them have the urge to clean and wash compulsively.

Cleaning or washing is often carried out several times a day, with repetitive hand or body washing rituals until the person feels clean. Individuals with these types of obsessions can avoid:

  • Use public toilets
  • Get in contact with chemicals
  • Handshaking (fear of catching germs from other people).
  • Touching elevator buttons or door handles
  • Using public telephones (fear of catching germs from other people).
  • Have surgery or visit your GP to prevent medical instruments from coming into contact with your skin.

5. Obsessions due to mental contamination

This type of obsession is similar to the previous one, but it does not have to do with someone who comes into contact with potentially dirty or contaminated objects or environments, but rather thoughts of mental contamination arise when the person feels abused, physically or mentally, through critical or verbally abusive comments.

This causes it to feel dirty, but dirty internally.

6. Sensorimotor obsessions

Sensorimotor obsessions have to do with an exaggerated awareness of certain bodily sensations. Some examples are:

  • Breathing: obsession with whether the breathing is shallow or deep, or the focus is on some other sensation of breathing.
  • Flicker: an obsessive fixation on blinking.
  • Swallowing / salivation: the person focuses on the frequency with which it is swallowed, the amount of salivation produced, etc.
  • Awareness of specific parts of the body, for example, perception of the side of the nose while trying to read.

7. Sexual obsessions

These obsessions are thoughts of causing unintentional sexual harm, or about constant questioning of one's sexuality.. A person who experiences these types of intrusive thoughts will avoid public places, such as shopping malls, or schools to avoid coming into close contact with children.

Some examples are:

  • Fear being a pedophile and being sexually attracted to boys.
  • Fear of being sexually attracted to members of one's own family.
  • Thoughts about touching a child inappropriately.
  • Intrusive sexual thoughts about God, saints, or religious figures.

8. Homosexual obsessions

They are thoughts similar to the previous ones, but characterized by fear of being attracted to members of the same sex. Both the previous point and this one, makes the person feel so embarrassed that she is unable to seek help.

9. Obsessions for committing violent acts

These obsessions are characterized by the fear of carrying out violent acts against loved ones or other people. That is why they will avoid situations in which some acts such as these may occur:

  • Use of kitchen knives and other sharp objects (the compulsion would consist of hiding or avoiding sharp objects).
  • Violently harming children or loved ones.
  • Kill innocent people.
  • Thoughts about accidentally touching someone inappropriately, for the purpose of hurting them.

10. Religious obsessions

These obsessions cause people to fixate on religion and religious practice. What causes a series of compulsive behaviors such as, for example, that some sentences must be said over and over again, the sentences are to be omitted or recited incorrectly or blasphemous words need to be shouted out loud in one place religious. Obsessive thoughts can include worrying about committing sins or offending God, not praying enough, or fear of not being forgiven, among others.

11. Obsessions of catastrophism

This type of obsession is characterized because the person thinks that something bad will happen if he does not carry out the compulsion. For example, fear of negligence, theft if you don't close the door, or being responsible for a catastrophe.

12. Obsessions for lack of control

The person has obsessive thoughts about losing control. For example: doubts or concerns that one may lose control of oneself, thoughts of say racist words, thoughts of making offensive comments, or thoughts of participating in the Stole.
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