Types of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder that is driven by undesirable thoughts known as obsessions that compels repetitive behaviours, known as compulsions. However, it varies from individual to individual in the way in which symptoms of OCD are experienced. Based on the nature of the symptoms experienced OCD can be divided into different types. There are five main categories of OCD and numerous sub-types within each category.

  • Contamination 

  • Ruminations 

  • Intrusive Thoughts

  • Checking

  • Hoarding


  • Here an individual’s fear of contracting something is the obsession and he needs to wash and clean is the compulsion.

  • Examples, Resorting to washing and cleaning excessively when using public toilets, shaking hands with others, touching door knobs/handles, visiting hospitals, etc. (Fear of contracting germs).

  • Cleaning or washing is often undertaken multiple times throughout the day.

  •  It often is accompanied by rituals of repetitive washing of hand or body until the individual ‘feels clean’. 


  • Here an individual’s often experiences a prolonged thinking about any question or theme which leads to being mostly unproductive and undirected.

  • Ruminations are often indulged and not objectionable.  rather than resisted. 

  • The themes experienced while ruminating are philosophical, religious or metaphysical in nature. Like, life after death, origins of the universe, etc.

  • Rumination often ends up causing interferences with the individual’s daily living like work, relationships, etc.

Intrusive Thoughts

  • Here an individual experiences obsessional thoughts that are repetitive, and repugnant in nature.  For example, thoughts of causing harm to others or loved ones.

  • These thoughts mostly disturb and distress them to a great extent, as these thoughts are intrusive and obsessional in nature.

  • The very idea of their ability to think such thoughts in the first place can be horrifying.  However, these individuals are incapable in reality to act on the thoughts as they find them repugnant and would go to great lengths to prevent them happening. 

  • Some categories of intrusive thoughts are;

  1. Relationships - Here the individual obsessively doubts the sustainability and suitability of their relationship. 

  2. Sexual Thoughts - Here the individual obsessively have thoughts on unintentionally, or constantly thinks of one’s sexuality, unintentionally causing sexual harm.

  3. Magical Thinking - Here the individual believes and is fearful that if they think of something bad, something bad would happen. 

  4. Religious - Here the individual often fixates on religion and religious matters. 

  5. Violent Thoughts - Here the individual obsessive fears of acting upon violent acts against loved ones or other people.

  • Intrusive thoughts often end up causing interferences with the individual’s daily living like work, relationships, etc.


  • Here an individual’s fear of harm, loss or death is the obsession and need to check is known as compulsion

  • Examples, checking of gas or electric stove knobs, (fear of causing burn down), water taps  (fear of flooding), door locks  (fear of robbery, etc

  • Checking is often undertaken multiple times throughout the day. It ends up being extremely time-consuming.

  • Checking often times interferes with daily living like work, relationships, etc. 

  • Cleaning or washing ends up being extremely time consuming and interferes with daily living like work, relationships, etc.


  • Here an individual’s inability to dump or trash purposeless or worn out possessions, save or collect things even when they have no space to keep is known as hoarding. 

  • There are 3 categories of hoarding;

  1. Preventing harm hoarding – Here the individual wants to prevent harm and hence refuses to throw away. For example, if they throw away cans or glass objects, garbage men will be harmed due to those objects.

  2. Deprivation hoarding – Here the individual doesn’t throw the object away as they may need the object later use or purpose.  For example, they refuse to throw away old newspapers as they believe they haven’t finished reading or might need it later

  3. Emotional Hoarding – Here the individual hoards things because they hold emotional or is highly significant value for them. For example, they would keep old toys and clothes from their childhood as those items hold fond memories.

  • Hoarding can risk safety and health and interferes with daily living like work, relationships, etc.