Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: What are compulsions?

What are compulsions?

Compulsions are repetitive behaviours and rituals people use to reduce the discomfort caused by obsessions.

For example if a person has an obsessive thought about the safety of their home, they may repeatedly check to see that the oven is turne off.

Compulsions are observable (e.g. washing) or hidden (e.g. checking things in your mind, trying to stop thoughts).

Common compulsions include:

  • Washing
  • Checking
  • Cleaning
  • Counting
  • Ordering
  • Compulsive praying
  • Arranging and performing daily tasks in a rigid fashion
There may also be less obvious compulsions people carry out in their minds like:
  • Mentally checking that something has been done
  • Counting things (e.g.ceiling tiles, the number of cars driving by)
  • Needing to be continually reassured (e.g. asking someone "Are you sure it's okay?")
People with OCD usually experience anxiety relief from performing the compulsions but it is usually short-lived.
Last Updated : 22-Sep-2013