Updated: Jul 9, 2022
Compulsions are very hard to resist and a person experiences a lot of anxiety if they don’t follow them. This article explains the most common types of compulsions.
Compulsions are repetitive behaviours that a person with OCD is drawn to do because of the obsessions or set of rules they feel they have to follow. They just feel they have to do these things. At times a person with OCD feels that if they don’t do it something bad will happen. Compulsions are very hard to resist performing and a person experiences a lot of anxiety if they don’t follow them.
In OCD diagnosis compulsions need to be time - consuming and happening for more than an hour in a day. Many people have compulsive behaviours but it does not mean they have OCD. Some people like to repeat certain activities a certain number of times. Other people feel that if they scratch themselves on the left side they have to scratch the same number of times on the right side. If these compulsions are not taking a significant amount of time or do not interfere with what you need to do then it is not OCD and does not require treatment. Moreover, if these compulsions do not contribute to a person’s distress or feelings of guilt they are considered habits.
The most common compulsions that a person with OCD has are checking, repeating, cleaning, counting. Checking includes repeatedly making sure that there are no mistakes in the email. A person might spend hours on email which is only a few paragraphs long experiencing a lot of anxiety. Another example of checking is when a person repeatedly checks appliances, e.g. gas cooker and front door to ensure the house is safe. Repeating memay mean rewriting things or repeating certain activities a specific number of times. Washing and cleaning might relate to a person’s body or clothing. Lastly, asking for reassurance from friends and family is a common example of a compulsion.
Not all compulsions can be observable. Another form of compulsions are mental compulsions that might include mentally reviewing past events, reviewing procedures or events repeatedly in an effort to have certainty that something has or has not happened. Other forms of mental compulsions are suppression of thoughts, thinking of nice thoughts to cancel out bad thoughts. Cancelling rituals such as replacing bad words with good ones are another type of mental compulsion. To determine whether a behaviour is a compulsion, a behaviour must be driven by the individual’s desire to escape feelings of fear or anxiety. People usually acknowledge that the compulsions are not always reasonable but they have to perform it to relieve the anxiety they experience.