Pure O


Purely Obsessional Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (Pure O) is a lesser-known form or manifestation of OCD. There are usually no observable compulsions (checking, counting, hand-washing, etc.). While ritualizing and neutralizing behaviors do take place, they are almost entirely in the form of excessive mental rumination. The nature and type of Purely Obsessional OCD varies greatly, but the central theme for all sufferers is the emergence of a disturbing intrusive thought or question, an unwanted/inappropriate mental image, or a frightening impulse that causes the person extreme anxiety because it is antithetical to closely-held religious beliefs, morals, or societal mores.

Neurotypicals instinctively respond to bizarre intrusive thoughts or impulses as insignificant and part of a normal variance in the human mind. Someone with Purely Obsessional OCD will respond with profound alarm followed by an intense attempt to neutralize the thought or avoid having it again. The person begins to ask themselves constantly ‘Am I really capable of something like that?’ or ‘Could that really happen?’ or ‘Is that really me?’ (even though they usually realize that their fear is irrational, which causes them further distress) and put tremendous effort into escaping or resolving the unwanted thought. They then end up in a vicious cycle of mentally searching for reassurance and trying to get a definitive answer.

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