Obsessive-Compulsive disorders can be very debilitating. Obsessions refer to uncontrollable intrusive thoughts. Compulsions refer to actions taken to alleviate the obsessions. Those actions are extremely difficult to stop. They are experienced as worse than a “habit.” Many Saints suffered from this illness in the form of scruples. Fortunately, obsessive-compulsive conditions are very treatable with cognitive-behavioral and desensitization therapies and/or medication.

Common Obsessive Thoughts

  • Fear of being contaminated by germs or dirt or contaminating others.
  • Fear of causing harm to self or others when such intend is not present.
  • Intrusive sexually explicit or violent thoughts and images.
  • Excessive focus on religious or moral ideas.
  • Fear of losing or not having needed things.
  • Order and symmetry: the idea that everything must line up “just right.”
  • Belief that something bad will happen if certain things aren’t done a certain way.
  • Superstitions; excessive attention to something considered lucky or unlucky.

Common compulsive behaviors

  • Excessive double-checking of things, such as locks, appliances, and switches.
  • Repeatedly checking in on loved ones to make sure they’re safe.
  • Counting, tapping, repeating certain words, or doing other senseless things to reduce anxiety.
  • Spending a lot of time washing or cleaning.
  • Ordering or arranging things “just so.”
  • Praying excessively or engaging in rituals triggered by religious fear.

Accumulating “junk” such as old newspapers or empty food containers.