OCD Chicago

You Are Not Alone
Information for Individuals

What is “Pure O”?

Get an Expert’s Perspective

Read the article: Pure “O” – Fact or Fiction?

Over the years, a theory of “Pure O” or “pure obsession” was raised by some in the field of OCD study.  According to this theory, a person had a “different” type of OCD because the person was not observed to perform visible compulsions.

Today, this theory is not supported by most experts.

OCD is a combination of obsessions and compulsions that take up a significant amount of time each day.  While most compulsions are easily seen—such as repeated hand washing, checking that locks are secured or a kitchen stove is turned off, compulsions do not have to be physical acts.

Compulsions can be mental processes or rituals (such as prayers, counting, or saying words or phrases to keep bad things from happening). These kinds of “invisible” acts also are done in an attempt to reduce the anxiety caused by obsessions.

It’s easy to see how someone could be confused about compulsions if they believed those compulsions must be physical acts to be the “typical” kind of OCD.  But whether or not compulsions are visible, someone who suffers with obsessions must seek help to get relief from OCD.

Find a book about OCD and its treatment

Learn more about treatment for OCD

Back to Information for Adults