9 Obsessions Associated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Health Writer
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Hand washing

This is frequently driven by a fear of germs or contamination and includes the frequent use of hand sanitizers. Some people must wash their hands a certain number of times or in a certain way to try to reduce feelings of anxiety. If you worry excessively about germs and contamination, even after you have washed your hands, you might want to talk to a mental health professional. 

Repeatedly checking

Checking and rechecking is the most common type of compulsion among those with OCD. It involves checking, and rechecking, behaviors to attempt to alleviate fears that something terrible is going to happen unless you check and recheck. Many people develop a ritual of checking something a certain number of times. 

Excessive organization

You organize things to the point of overorganizing. You like things neat, tidy and symmetrical. Some people organize their refrigerators alphabetically, their closets by color. They buy things only in pairs or always have items in even numbers. They spend enormous amounts of time making sure their life has order and are keenly aware and agitated if the order is upset.

Ruminating about relationships

You constantly go over every aspect of your relationships.  You replay interactions in your mind, looking at every remark and comment, trying to find hidden meanings in what others say or reviewing what you have said, sure you said something wrong. While many people analyze their relationships and are at time insecure about romantic interests, those with OCD replay these thoughts as if “stuck in a loop.” 

Needing reassurance

Seeking reassurance is sometimes a way to avoid obsessive thoughts and rituals. For example, if you are a hand washer, you might ask for reassurance after touching a shopping cart or shaking someone’s hand. If you find yourself asking the same questions over and over, it might be a sign of OCD.

Fear of violence

Many people have thoughts of violence - either happening to them or inflicting violence on others. Usually, these thoughts are fleeting and are dismissed without a problem. For those with OCD, the thoughts can replay in a loop. If you find yourself avoiding situations because of an unfounded fear or checking repeatedly to avoid a perceived terrible outcome, it could be a sign of OCD. 


Some people count as they go about daily activities. For example, you might count how many steps from your desk to your car. You might find that you must always end on an even number and be concerned something bad is going to happen if you end on an odd number. You might take smaller steps or take a few extra steps to be sure you get to your car with an even number of steps. 


Similar to handwashing, excessive cleaning usually stems from a fear of germs and contamination. You clean your house excessively and become agitated when your children invite friends over, needing to clean every surface they touched during their visit. Like handwashing, your anxiety is eased for a short while but returns more intensely.

Sexual thoughts

People with OCD often have intrusive sexual thoughts. They might imagine themselves being sexually inappropriate with coworkers, neighbors or people on the street. They might have a fleeting thought about someone of the same sex and worry excessively that they are gay (or vice-versa.) They might worry that they are going to sexually molest a child.