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  • Catherine Benfield

The Many Ways OCD can Attack just One Value!

A picture of a very frazzled Olivia in front of a quirky machine. The machine eats values such as 'I love my Cat, I want to keep her safe' adn chursn out lots of different intrusive thoughts attacking the value.

Knowing how OCD works is empowering because it allows us to spot when OCD might be at play and to get some strategies in place quickly!

One of the most misunderstood things about OCD is just how wide-ranging the symptoms can be. I’ve spoken to lots of people with OCD over the past few years, and loads of us had delays to diagnosis because we didn't recognise our symptoms as OCD. 

We know that OCD attacks our values - it's no coincidence that people with OCD are often extremely kind, caring and compassionate people. And it’s also no surprise that OCD makes us doubt that. If there's any space for uncertainty, OCD will jump right in. I’ll show you what I mean…


The Many Ways Obsessions can attack the one Value

Say an important value of yours is caring for your loved ones and keeping them safe...

The following list is just the tip of the iceberg of the types of obsessions you might have around this value. I won't list them all because:

  1. It will make the post way too triggering.

  2. It is impossible - there really are that many!

*Remember, obsessions are the first part of the OCD loop - they are thoughts, fears, bodily sensations, and urges about something that goes totally against your values. Obsessions cause a great deal of stress, anxiety and fear.

  • What if I hurt them by accident?

  • What if I want to hurt my loved ones on purpose?

  • What if someone else hurts them?

  • What if they have an accident?

  • What if I get dirt and germs into their food?

  • What if some dog poop gets on their shoe?

  • What if I accidentally sexually assault them? 

  • What if I deliberately sexually assault them?

  • What if I want to assault them sexually?

  • What if I don’t really love them?

  • Do I secretly want a divorce or to leave my family?

  • Would my child be better off with someone else?

  • Am I unhealthy for my family?

  • What if I cause my child to have a mental health need?

  • Is that food really healthy?

  • What if we have a car crash?

OCD tends to affect people differently, so you might have just experienced one of the above, a few, or all. Many of us with OCD experience changes in theme , so your obsessions may jump around from one worry to the other over time. You will probably be able to add quite a few of your own obsessions and intrusive thoughts to the list above; OCD is nothing but creative! 

The Many Ways Compulsions can attack the one Value 

For every obsession above, there are an endless number of compulsions that could be carried out.

*Remember, compulsions are also part of the OCD loop and involve actions designed to lower the anxiety felt by the obsessions. 

Let’s take one of the obsessions above:

Let's go with one of the most distressing ones because it’s important we normalise this type of fear. 

"What if I want to hurt my loved ones on purpose?"

I know this sounds scary, but OCD wants you to pay attention, and terrifying you is an affective way to get it!

Below is a list of just some of the compulsions we might use to help lessen the anxiety felt about this thought. 

  • Wash hands to help wash thoughts away

  • Distraction - keeping busy 

  • Avoidance - avoiding loved ones

  • Avoiding using kitchen knives

  • Avoid watching a violent film in case it ‘influences’ you

  • Checking - reading the news as a way of comparing yourself with actual criminals

  • Review past events to work out if you are capable of doing such a thing- these memories may also be used to ‘give evidence’ and ‘prove’ to yourself that you are a good or bad person. 

  • Praying or chanting as a way of purifying/cleansing thoughts

  • Remove anything from the house that could possibly be a risk.

And just like the obsession list, this compulsion list could go on a lot longer too!

As you can see from above, the ways in which OCD can attack just one value is endless. There seems to be an infinite combination of obsessions and compulsions that could take place, and this makes it difficult to work out whether what we are dealing with is actually OCD. 

But don't worry, because the good news is there are some rules to help us  work out whether something is OCD.

I should say first that most people experience some forms of obsessions - many people experience intrusive thoughts but tend not to be bothered by them for long. Some people even carry out compulsions - superstitions in sports, anyone? However, the D for ‘disorder’ in OCD is what's is important here, and you can generally tell if something's OCD by using the following guidelines….

How to tell if you're dealing with OCD?

  1. If you are sensing doubt or taking part in some sort of hunt for certainty, you can be pretty sure you are dealing with OCD. 

  2. OCD does not feel good. It's anxiety-provoking and distressing. If you are feeling anxious or low, the chances are you are dealing with OCD.

  3. It will be OCD if you are experiencing the OCD loop, which looks like this.

The OCD loop of obsession - anxiety - compulsion - temporary relief. All presented within a roller skating wheel.

For a spoken explanation of the OCD loop, please see here).

The OCD loop will continue until symptoms get worse over time, more intense, more distressing and more time-consuming.

4. What you are experiencing will probably be OCD if it is starting to interfere with your day-to-day life

The Many Ways OCD can Attack just One Value - A Summary!

Okay, I’ll leave this post here! I hope it has helped to explain that:

1) there are endless signs and symptoms of OCD and that even if you don't know anyone else dealing with exactly the same symptoms, it doesn't mean you don't have OCD!

2) you don't need to know every sign and symptom of OCD to be able to recognise that what you are dealing with is OCD. 

Please remember that I deliberately kept the lists for obsessions and compulsions in this post short - it would literally be impossible to list them all. If you are dealing with symptoms not mentioned above, that doesn't mean you aren't dealing with OCD. ( I know how OCD works and that's the first thing mine would have had me thinking about!)

Sending you all loads of love!

Cat xx

Further Reading

Want to know why some obsessions feel like urges? Read my most read blog here.

Interested in books, resources and information about OCD? Look no further than here! This is one of the most comprehensive lists available for OCD.

Learn more about how to spot sneaky compulsions here.

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