Obsessions and compulsions are two symptoms or mental health conditions, including Obesessive-compulsive Disorder and Obsessive-compulsive Personality Disorder.  Obsessions are intrusive thoughts that cause anxiety and fear, causing a person to engage in compulsions, or repetitive behaviors that alleviate the anxiety caused by the obsessions.  A person will typically believe that the behavior that reduces the anxiety is directly preventing something bad from happening.


  • Control: fear that they may do something violent to others
  • Harm: fear of causing something bad to happen
  • Contamination: fear of bodily fluids, chemicals, etc.
  • Sexual Thoughts: obscene or unwanted sexual thoughts
  • Mistakes: fear of not being perfect or exact


  • Cleaning
  • Repeating behaviors (locking the door a specific number of times)
  • Rechecking things
  • Hoarding


There are likely biological causes of obsessions and compulsions.  Neurotransmitters that regulate anxiety may be malfunctioning, causing certain people to experience increased levels of overall anxiety.  Thoughts and behaviors can develop that a person connects to these ideas when no actual connection is present.


Obsessions and compulsions can be treated by medical intervention, with antidepressants.  Antidepressants balance the neurotransmitters that cause the anxiety and allow the person to feel some relief.  Psychotherapy is also important to help the person to realize that they can control their compulsions and that these behaviors are not actually connected to their intrusive thoughts.

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