What is Pure O?
Pure O, or Pure Obsessional OCD, is a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) that can cause intrusive thoughts damaging to one’s mental and physical health. Those affected by this type of OCD may experience compulsions like excessive washing or checking, but these behaviors are not present in the majority of cases. Instead, Pure O sufferers are most commonly plagued by thought patterns that cannot be controlled using traditional OCD treatment methods. Pure O is characterized as having “no observable compulsions”, but this does not mean it is easier to deal with; the mental stress can have a significantly negative impact on one’s life.
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Symptoms of Pure O
Persistent obsessional thoughts or images – These are recurrent, intrusive thoughts, ideas, or memories that are bothering or upsetting. They can be about anything from harm coming to the self or loved ones to a fear of being contaminated by dirt or germs.
Avoidance behaviors – In order to prevent the obsessional thoughts from becoming overwhelming, people with pure O will often avoid things that trigger these unwanted thoughts and images. This might include avoiding public places or staying away from people who are seen as particularly threatening or frightening.
Ritualistic behaviors – Pure O is characterized by compulsive or ritualistic behaviors that are meant to minimize the occurrence of obsessional thoughts and images, such as excessive hand washing, counting items, checking things repeatedly, and repeating certain words or phrases over and over again. However, these rituals tend to have no real effect on the occurrence of obsessional thoughts and images, which can result in significant distress and impairment.
Anxiety & shame – Most people with pure O experience a significant amount of anxiety around their symptoms as well as feelings of shame about having these unwanted thoughts that cause them so much discomfort. These negative emotions often lead to even more compulsive behaviors in an attempt to control these thoughts, which can lead to a vicious cycle.
Obsessions of Pure O
The obsessions associated with Pure O are varied and often quite complex, making it difficult for people who suffer from this disorder to manage their symptoms effectively. Some of the most common obsessions associated with Pure O include:
- Fear of being a bad person or committing morally reprehensible acts, such as harming others intentionally or engaging in inappropriate sexual behaviors.
- Intense worries about thoughts or images that are perceived as blasphemous, obscene, violent, or otherwise inappropriate for a religious person.
- Obsessions related to contamination or disease, such as fears of contracting an illness from others or being unable to wash away harmful substances from one’s body.
- Obsessions focused on the performance of rituals, such as counting and checking behaviors to ensure that one is completing tasks correctly or performing certain actions a specific number of times to prevent negative outcomes.
- Disturbing thoughts related to hurting loved ones or others, such as unwanted impulses to commit violent acts against friends or family members.
Compulsions of Pure O
There are several different types of compulsive behaviors that are associated with Pure O OCD, including:
- Avoidance behaviors – This may include avoiding certain people or places, holding back from engaging in certain activities for fear that they will trigger an intrusive thought or image, and constantly monitoring one’s thoughts and feelings to look for any potential signs of unwanted obsessions.
- Rituals and habits – These may include repeating specific words or phrases or performing various physical or mental routines in an attempt to neutralize the anxiety caused by intrusive thoughts.
- Mental compulsions – These may involve constant rumination over fears of having committed a terrible act, repeatedly checking to make sure that no negative consequences have occurred as a result of the thoughts, and engaging in thought suppression or “blocking” to try to prevent unwanted intrusive thoughts from entering one’s consciousness.
- Mental rituals – These may involve constant reassurance seeking and repeating certain words or phrases to oneself as a way of trying to dismiss or suppress unwanted thoughts.
- Checking – This may include checking one’s body for signs of having performed a reprehensible act, checking on other people or animals to make sure that they are okay, and repeatedly questioning oneself about whether or not certain events may have happened in the past.