Learn about the different Obsessive Compulsive Disorders

Do you know the different types of OCD that exist? In this article, we will describe the most frequent ones and we will explain the type of compulsions with which they usually manifest.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is identified by the presence of obsessions and compulsions that interfere with the quality of life. People with OCD tend to pay attention to obsessive content in order to get rid of it through certain rituals.

These rituals can be manifested externally through behavioral repertoires that are observable by others. However, some of the compulsions that are performed in OCD can manifest internally, the person being the only witness to these rituals.

What is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is recognized in the Statistical and Psychiatric Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V), being an independent nosological category. OCD is characterized by the presence of obsessions and compulsions .

Obsessions can manifest themselves in the form of persistent images, thoughts and impulses that the person uses to control them, since they tend to interfere with daily life. Despite the fact that the person recognizes that these contents are products of their mind, not fighting them through compulsions generates intense discomfort in the person.

Thus, compulsions are the weapon that the person has against obsessions. Compulsions in OCD are characterized as acts that the person performs in order to eliminate, reduce or neutralize the previously described obsessions. These compulsions can be translated, for example:

  • Constant hand washing.
  • Do not touch surfaces.
  • Sort and order checks.
  • Count or repeat words silently.
  • Pray a specified number of times.
  • Etc.

The goal of compulsions is the prevention of some future event or situation . In this way, compulsions become a form of avoidance in the face of a very remote or non-existent possibility. The person is aware that what they do makes very little sense, but they do it because it is the only way they know to lower their anxiety levels.

Types of OCD

The clinical manifestations of the content of obsessions and compulsive acts can be summarized in the following types:


Usually, the obsessions centered contamination concern fear germs, dirt, toxins, fluids, etc. The person is afraid of being infected or infected. A fear that can be variable: at some times you may be afraid of, for example, suffering from some type of cancer and, in others, of catching a sexual disease.

Washing the face and hands is the most frequent compulsion in this type of case, in addition to the use of cleaning products and sanitizing gels. Washing the area in contact with any external agent is immediate. It is common for the person to shower or wash the exposed area a specified number of times. Consequently, it can happen that frequent washing causes eczema from compulsive washing in OCD.

Pathological doubt

In this type of OCD, the person feels invaded by worries about the future and about responsibility for their actions . For example, reviewing the work you have done in your workplace for fear of having made a mistake, and therefore fear of being fired, or proceeding to confirm a certain number of times that the alarm is set in order to wake up when next day.

The compulsions performed in this case lead to confirmation rituals that can take several hours. Thus, the person remains connected with that doubt and with the behaviors that his mind asks him to do so that everything is in order.


Another type of TOC focuses on the need for objects to have a certain order and alignment . But not only is symmetry related to objects that can be touched, but also to activities or movements. For example, to get to a place, the person may have several options.

A person with OCD and obsessions of symmetry can sacrifice a lot of time choosing one of them because this is the only one that fits their patterns.

Thus, this way of making decisions can make it very slow. At work, to write a report; at home, to fold clothes; with friends, to choose a restaurant. That is to say, in this case the obsession, and the derived compulsion, can become a heavy burden on the effectiveness of the person . On the other hand, the fact that for her there is only one way to proceed, can make her become a difficult boss to follow.


In this type of OCD, the person is afraid of getting a serious illness . In these cases, the person usually reviews their symptoms and confirms whether or not they are currently on the part of the body of concern.

These fears can also be seen in other disorders such as hypochondria. However, unlike hypochondria , people with OCD often have other types of additional obsessions and compulsions and do not usually have somatic or visceral symptoms of the disease.

Aggression and sexuality

In this type of OCD, the person experiences a great fear of hurting someone . The content of thoughts is often very unpleasant for people with OCD, avoiding in many cases social contact for fear of not being able to control an impulse that harms others.

The result is isolation, accentuating the obsessive symptoms in some cases . As a way to control these types of thoughts, in addition to avoiding social contact, the person can perform mental compulsions such as praying.

Psychological treatment for OCD

Regarding the treatment of OCD, cognitive-behavioral therapy has been the star approach and exposure with response prevention (ERP) the most widely used technique. However, currently, the effectiveness of third-generation therapies has also been seen, specifically, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) as a way of relating in a different way to the content of obsessions.

It is important for the person with OCD to relate to the content of the obsessions, to contrast them with reality and to allow the anxiety to grow until it naturally diminishes. In a way, it could be said that compulsions are what trap the individual in the struggle to eliminate obsessions, making them more and more intense.

Thus, a person's life can become the fight against an obsession. A vital transformation that often leads to other disorders, such as depression.

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