Howard Hughes. “Monk.” Howie Mandel. When people think of OCD, majority will jump to the stereotypical ‘germaphobe.’ The classic handwashing compulsion and fear of getting sick. Contamination is the most well-known type of OCD, but did you know there are many different types of OCD? Today, we will explore some of the different types.
Symmetry OCD: This type is the need to feel balanced, even, or exact. This has also been stereotyped in the media as having things neat and orderly. This type is much more though and can cause intense anxiety that something bad will happen if things are asymmetrical. Rituals may look like arranging things perfectly and exact or doing things in even numbers, so it will feel balanced.
Harm OCD:In this type, people fear harming one’s self or others. This can be terrifying as this is not what the person wants. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. These individuals may fear stabbing their loved ones or driving into oncoming traffic. They may avoid knives or anything sharp altogether, seek reassurance from loved ones to make sure that they are okay, or repeatedly drive around the block making sure they did not run someone over. Many are ashamed to share these thoughts for fear they will be hospitalized or arrested.
Pedophile OCD:This is another type that carries a lot of shame and individuals tend to suffer in silence. We need to remember that these are obsessions and not the desires of the person. These obsessions present themselves in ways such as being uncertain if they molested a child and cannot remember it or fearing they may have molested their infant while changing his/her diaper. They may avoid children and places where children could possibly be. They may isolate themselves to remove any chance of endangering or abusing a child. Individuals with this type of OCD may even torture themselves in their heads because they ‘deserve it’.
Scrupulosity OCD: This is the religious and moralistic type of OCD. These obsessions trigger fears of committing sins, going to Hell, or being a ‘bad’ person. Compulsions may take form in ways of praying for hours upon hours, continuously confessing and/or apologizing, or seeking reassurance. This type is more difficult for people to work on as the risk of letting go of these rituals could impact their “eternity.”
Contamination OCD: Although this is the most well-known, I do not want to discredit contamination OCD. This type can be extremely difficult. The fears are getting sick or dying or contaminating others which will cause them to become sick or cause death. Common compulsions are handwashing – usually to the extent of their hands cracking and bleeding, multiple and prolonged showers, avoiding places such as hospitals, using barriers such as gloves when touching things, and excessive use of hand sanitizer.
These are only a few of the ways OCD can manifest itself and many times types they may overlap with each other. No matter the type, please remember that the things individuals with OCD do are part of the disease and by no means do they want to engage in these rituals. However, the belief of not following through with the compulsions is much scarier.
If you or someone you know is suffering from OCD, please reach out to a counselor who is trained in Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). To find someone in your area, check out https://iocdf.org/or www.viewpointspsychotherapy.comto get connected today.
Help is out there.