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  • Douglas Zimmerman

Pure O OCD

Updated: Jun 7, 2021

Is there such a thing as Pure O OCD or Pure OCD? I’m not so sure? Many people come to me complaining that they only obsess and it infuriates them because of how irrational (ego-dystonic) their obsessions are; however when we take a closer look, we can usually find some evidence of compulsions.


Even if it’s avoidance or assurance seeking or confessing… there is usually something to get our teeth into. And, of course, it’s easier to attack a behavior than an abstract way of thinking. But, if indeed, you only obsess, then the trick is to accept the thoughts and let them pass on through. Try not to judge them. Stay with the anxiety and the anxiety over time will diminish. This usually happens best when talked through in therapy.


The obsessive thoughts lose their spark, come out of the shadows; and like a vampire, they die. Say you find yourself googling OCD pedophilia or OCD pedophilia psychotherapy, HOCD, Harm OCD, contamination OCD and contamination OCD therapy, and a million other OCD’s and various keywords– hoping for the click (that just right feeling) that will free you – because the thoughts are torturous, then one, you are probably googling too much and are seeking assurance too often; or, better, you are on the hunt for treatment and symptom relief. And in the case of the latter, you are on your way.


If we meet, after the history is complete, we will try to find some compulsions to attack head on, but we also probably head toward a form of acceptance commitment therapy (ACT). We will work on accepting the thoughts and letting the anxiety rise and then ebb. In addition, we’ll also look at where the thinking is irrational. The cognitive distortions – what are they and how do they display? We’ll look at cost benefit analysis and hopefully I can show you where the cost of perseverating is not worth the short- term relief benefit you get.


And if you can’t yet see that the cost is too high, then we will go deeper and see how your values were formed, and how have they progressed (we will probably do this even if you can see how high the cost is)? This might involve looking at your family dynamics: are you repeating something you observed? Here is where insight can strike a firm chord. When you know you are repeating, you then have the capacity to stop.


So, is there such a thing as Pure OCD? Again, I’m not certain, but suspect there is usually much more beyond the “Pure.” Pure usually falls in lockstep with OCD/OC spectrum disorders. Though, every individual is different, and we will acknowledge this and move onward from there.

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