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What are the Different Types of OCD?

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  • Written By: Jacob Queen
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2016
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Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a psychological disorder which causes repetitive behavior. Suffers believe these repetitions will rid them of disturbing thoughts or feelings. It is believed that there are five major types of OCD. Cleaning, hoarding, and repetitive checking are the three most common behaviors. Ordering of objects and repeated thought processes or phrases are also typical.

Of all the types of OCD, the most common is generally the checking and rechecking of items or actions. This accounts for almost 80% of all OCD diagnoses. People who suffer this type of OCD believe that they have failed to complete a task and that this failure will lead to a catastrophic event. They may go back repeatedly to check to see if they locked the door or turned off an appliance. How many times this must be done varies from person to person, but in most cases, it ultimately interferes with a normal lifestyle.

Obsessive cleaning usually stems from an unnatural fear of germs. The sufferers believe that contamination is everywhere and that only by cleaning and re-cleaning can they create a safe environment. They typically avoid places and circumstances where they may not be able to control cleanliness, such as public restrooms, restaurants, and sometimes even the homes of family and friends. In some ways, this could be viewed as the most debilitating of all types of OCD because it can be difficult for a normal person to stay in one place all the time.

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Hoarders are simply afraid to throw anything away. They tend to hang onto anything they receive, no matter its significance. They often have an irrational fear that their lives may depend on what possessions they have on hand. Their lifestyles and living environments are generally very chaotic.

People who suffer from compulsive ordering are unable to rest or relax unless certain possessions are in order. In extreme cases, this may apply to all of their belongings, but often they will focus on particular things such as books, magazines, or food items. Their ordering process may be simple, such as alphabetizing or arranging items by size, but it can also be a system so complex that it may take hours to complete.

Of all the types of OCD, the repetition of thoughts or phrases is generally viewed as the most unusual. These people are plagued by feelings of guilt associated with thoughts they can't control. These thoughts usually involve doing harm to others or themselves. Sometimes the thoughts are of a sexual nature that the person believes to be perverse. They believe that repeating phrases, either aloud or silently, can keep the unwanted thoughts at bay.

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