written by: Keren Perles
• edited by: Diana Cooper
• updated: 2/13/2011
Like obsessive compulsive disorder, Pure O can disrupt people's lives. But what exactly is Pure O? Read on to find out about this unique disorder.
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What is Pure O?
A variant of obsessive compulsive disorder, Pure O focuses on the obsessions of the disorder rather than the compulsions. A person who has Pure O may have obsessions that are violent in nature (such as killing a child), or that revolve around religious matters (worshipping idols), sexuality (doubting orientation), health (contracting diseases) or relationships (saying inappropriate things to a friend). Any of these obsessions seem to take over the person's life, and a person with Pure O may obsess over these issues for hours on end without stopping.
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Pure O vs. OCD
A common misconception about Pure O is the fact that it involves only obsessions, but no compulsions. In truth, Pure O does involve compulsions, but they are less visible than the compulsions in traditional OCD. Unlike Pure O, obsessive compulsive disorder may compel someone to wash his or her hands repeatedly in order to feel clean. A person with Pure O, however, may obsess about having contracted a disease due to improper handwashing, and will constantly ruminate about having used too little soap well after the handwashing has occurred. Other "invisible" compulsions or rituals include constantly going through the memory to try to figure out whether an event actually happened, searching the Internet to check whether something is correct, repeating prayers or superstitious phrases to ward off obsessions, confessing to others about obsessions, or avoiding situations and places that may trigger obsessive thoughts.
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Examples of Pure O Sufferers
People who suffer from Pure O come in many variations. For example, one person with Pure O may constantly obsess about having accidents that may be fatal to herself or others. She may fear going near streets because the sight of a street can trigger an obsession about running into the street and getting hit by a car. Not only that, she may fear open windows and stairways because they could trigger obsessions about throwing herself out of the window or down the stairs. These thoughts are not based on depression, but on obsessions with scary thoughts.
Ordinary people may have similar thoughts as someone with Pure O, but they will be fleeting. Most people have experienced the thought of what would happen if they were in a car accident, but a Pure O sufferer would obsess over the thought for hours on end, unable to do anything but think about it. Like obsessive compulsive disorder, Pure O can change the way people live their lives, including their jobs, relationships with others and daily routines.
Whether you know someone who has Pure O, obsessive compulsive disorder or a similar issue, you can help them by encouraging them to seek treatment, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, to help them control their disorder.
Unlike typical OCD, Pure O (Pure Obsessional OCD) consists almost entirely of obsessions, with no visible compulsions. This series of articles discusses the definition, symptoms, and treatments for Pure O.