Typical Compulsive Behaviours

Checking – making sure we are safe and/or that we are not ‘bad’

There are a million and one things your OCD might check. For example:

  • the door is locked
  • the lights are off
  • the cooker is off
  • the car is locked
  • a candle is out
  • a window is shut
  • your social media feed
  • other people’s body language or statements

Cleaning – making sure we, and others, are safe

Everybody cleans, but an OCD cleaning compulsion means something very different:

  • you might bleach everything
  • you might scrub away at surfaces even when you can’t see any dirt
  • you might avoid places or touching objects you think are unclean
  • you might avoid people you feel are unclean
  • you might constantly hoover the floor – several times a day
  • you might tidy up all the time and feel high anxiety if you don’t

Ordering – making sure we are in control

Ordering is when we need to have our things laid out or stored away in a particular order. It’s more than just liking things neat and tidy. Examples of this might be:

  • colour coding your phone apps
  • arranging books in alphabetical, size or colour order
  • having pens, pencils, knives, forks in perfectly straight lines
  • making objects equidistant from other objects

Counting – feeling settled and/or preventing harm to others

Counting is just that – performing a behaviour a certain amount of times. – any other number just doesn’t feel right.  For example:

  • checking a door is locked 5 times
  • turning a light switch on and off 6 times
  • breathing in and out 4 times
  • repeating a word in your head 10 times

‘Just right’ perfectionism

‘Just right’ perfectionism can hook itself onto anything – anything at all. Here are some examples:

  • writing a word 20 times before it is perfect enough
  • going up and down stairs 30 times before it has been done ‘correctly’
  • opening and shutting a door 40 times until it has given the ‘right click’

*this is just a snapshot of the more common compulsions. There are more.  For more info, head over to the OCD UK website by clicking the button below.