What is Obsessive-Compulsive Behaviour?

Obsessive-compulsive behaviour, also known as obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD, is a condition where a person has an urge to repeat the same...

Written by James Boynton · 3 min read >

Obsessive-compulsive behaviour, also known as obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD, is a condition where a person has an urge to repeat the same behaviours or actions again and again. You become so obsessed with these rituals that you just can’t imagine to enjoy/complete your day if you fail to do so. Not only this, a feeling of disappointment, shame, and even fear can embrace you and may put your life on hold.

Here’s what it is like to suffer from obsessive-compulsive behaviour:-

One of my friends was obsessed with cleanliness and perfectionism. She used to wash her hands over and over, clean her house twice a day, double-check if the door is locked and if lights are turned off, and the list goes on. One day before leaving for work, she forgot to turn off the water tap. What would have you done in that case? Probably, close the tap and smile that you are a lazy moron! But what my friend did was totally shocking. She punished herself for making the mistake– she beat herself. Soon the doctors revealed that she was suffering from OSD. But here is the good news– she is under treatment and is rapidly recovering from her condition.

Culturally, we consider that obsession, cleanliness, and perfectionism are positive. But sometimes the negative impacts– such as anxiety, fear, or shame can drown the positive traits, turning into obsessive-compulsive behaviour, a subtype of anxiety disorder.


So far, the exact causes of the condition are not known. However, the experts factually conclude that a person may feel forced to act upon in reaction to obsession due to:

  1. Environmental Factors– Infections and other contaminations or stressful events, failures may trigger OCD.
  2. Genetical Factors– a family history with the disorder can increase the risk of OCD.
  3. Biological Factors– structural, functional or chemical brain abnormalities may cause OCD.
  4. Other Mental Health Issues– Other disorders like depression, rumination disorder, substance abuse etc. may cause OCD.


As the name suggests, there are two kinds of compulsion and obsession symptoms that may relate to obsessive-compulsive behaviour. Some of these are:

Obsession Symptoms


●       Fear of falling sick- you don’t touch things that you think might be contaminated with infections or germs

●       Fear of hurting yourself or your loved ones- you may overthink that you, your close friends or family members may get hurt or killed in an unrealistic scenario

●       Fear of being a loser- you may be scared to fail or commit a mistake

●       Excessive doubt- you doubt everything and need assurance from others that everything is fine

●       Fear of immoral thoughts- you imagine troubling disrespectful or evil scenarios

●       Extremely obsessed with proper order- you feel frustrated or disappointed if things don’t fall in place

Compulsion Symptoms


●       Washing hands, bathing, or cleaning house over and over

●       Repeatedly checking if the door is locked, kitchen appliances are off, or the running water tap is closed

●       Buying unnecessary stuff or collecting things that you don’t need

●       You keep counting numbers to yourself (aloud or silently)

●       Ordering or Rearranging things in a specific symmetry, way or method

●       Unable to avoid tapping or touching certain things even if you don’t need to


Obsessive-compulsive behaviour can be treated either by psychological therapy (also called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) or by medicines.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)-

The expert counsellors and psychotherapists can treat OCD with exposure and response prevention technique. During the treatment sittings, the counsellor or psychotherapist expose you to scenarios that can aggravate anxiety or drive symptoms related to obsessive-compulsive behaviour. These regular encounters help patients to learn how to tackle the situation and slowly overcome their life-consuming fears.

The main agenda on which these psychological therapy works is to engage the subject in a triggering situation and helping him/her to change or prevent unnatural responses under certain guidelines set by the counsellor that the patient has agreed upon. It helps you in changing your attitude, believes, and the approach to deal with emotional and psychological issues. Also, it trains your mind how to react to certain incidents, eliminate repetitive behaviour as well as boost confidence and self-esteem.

Different phases of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

CBT involves six phases. Each phase is essential and can’t be skipped. These phases are:

  1. Psychological assessment- assess your habits, actions, behaviour, temper, problem-solving abilities, and several other traits.
  2. Reconceptualization- endure changes to improve your capability of developing new skills
  3. Skills acquisition- access if you are capable of performing a new task and motivating you to learn to overcome your fears
  4. Skills consolidation and application training- transform your behaviour by transforming your responses in conditions that tend to increase your obsessive and compulsive behavioural symptoms
  5. Generalization and maintenance-abstracting the general properties and identify the ways to manage responses and emotions
  6. Post-treatment assessment follow-up- The counsellor usually stay in touch with you to make sure the symptoms are gone and your mental health is perfectly fine.


In complex cases, doctors can prescribe medications along with cognitive behavioural therapy to treat obsessive-compulsive behaviour.

It may take years to treat OCD in severe cases whereas it takes three to one year to treat it with cognitive behavioural therapy. Although it is not possible to cure obsessive-compulsive behaviour within weeks, the treatment can improve your quality of life by lowering the symptoms.

In this fast-paced world, be a leader and conquer your fears by maintaining your physical and mental health. If you or anyone close to you is secretly dealing with obsessive-compulsive behaviour, get treated and live a happy life.






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