Examples of OCD in Daily Life

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People with obsessive compulsive disorder generally have specific obsessions that cause them an immense amount of stress. In modern society, these obsessions often seem strange and sufferers may try and hide them. Below are examples of OCD.

Cleaning and Washing

One of the more well-known obsessions concerns the fear of dirt, germs, bodily fluids, and other perceived contaminants. The person may have two different areas in their home: one that they class as clean and safe, and one that they feel is contaminated.

Washing and cleaning rituals are part of the compulsions that accompany the fear of contamination. The person may wash their hands as many as fifty times a day and spend hours in the shower. They may also spend hours decontaminating a room or area of the house until it is clean. This is done by washing bed linen, clothing and curtains, and scrubbing floors and walls.


This type of compulsion drives people to arrange things in a particular order or set up in a particular way. This can involve anything from pictures on the wall to stacks of newspapers to food in the pantry. That’s Life magazine in New Zealand mentioned a woman who could only hang up her washing if the pegs matched the color of the clothing. She would spend a lot of time trying to match them up and extreme anxiety resulted if she wasn’t able to. A friend eventually gave her some transparent pegs which gave her a measure of relief.

Other ordering obsessions include hoarding, list making, counting and putting items such as canned food or CDs into certain orders. A person engages in ordering behavior to relieve anxiety. The process of ordering and arranging brings temporary relief until the cycle begins again.


Many people with OCD worry that they have omitted to do something important. These concerns may be over leaving a door unlocked, a stove switched on, or an alarm set. Obsessional doubts set in and although they may check repeatedly, they are still not convinced that they have done everything the way they should have.

Intrusive Thoughts

Intrusive and aggressive thoughts, impulses and images manifest in several ways. It is common for them to be of a violent or sexual nature and although these type of thoughts may affect most people from time to time, those with OCD cannot push them away. The images can be particularly graphic and may drive some sufferers to confess to crimes they have not committed.

Most police departments have encountered individuals with OCD that come in and claim to have committed a crime. These commonly include murder, hit and run accidents and sexual molestation. On investigating, no evidence is found but the person will still be convinced of their guilt.

Obsessive compulsive disorder is a condition with many aspects and is displayed in people’s lives in many different ways. The above examples of OCD are a brief look at how this condition can limit people’s lives.