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Test Yourself: Do I Have “Pure O” OCD?

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition characterized by intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors or mental acts (compulsions). While many people are familiar with the stereotypical image of someone washing their hands repeatedly or checking the stove multiple times, there’s a lesser-known subtype of OCD called “Purely Obsessional” OCD, or “Pure O.”

“Pure O” is a bit of a misnomer. People with this subtype of OCD may not have visible compulsions, but they do engage in hidden mental rituals. These can include mentally reviewing events, seeking reassurance, or trying to suppress or neutralize intrusive thoughts.

If you’re wondering whether you might have “Pure O” OCD, this post will guide you through some common signs and symptoms. However, it’s essential to remember that only a qualified mental health professional can provide a definitive diagnosis.

Mental rituals

Common Signs and Symptoms of “Pure O” OCD:

  1. Intrusive Thoughts: These are unwanted, distressing thoughts or images that repeatedly enter your mind. They can be violent, sexual, or blasphemous in nature, or they might involve fears about causing harm to oneself or others.
  2. Mental Rituals: Even if you don’t engage in physical compulsions, you might find yourself performing mental rituals to alleviate the distress caused by intrusive thoughts. This could involve mentally counting, praying, or repeating certain phrases in your head.
  3. Reassurance Seeking: You might frequently ask others for reassurance about your fears or thoughts, even if you’ve been reassured before.
  4. Avoidance: To prevent triggering intrusive thoughts, you might avoid certain places, people, or activities.
  5. Distress and Anxiety: The intrusive thoughts can cause significant distress, anxiety, and even feelings of guilt or shame.
  6. Recognition that Thoughts are a Product of One’s Mind: Despite the distress they cause, you recognize that these intrusive thoughts are a product of your mind and not based on reality.

Self-Test Questions:

While this is not a diagnostic tool, answering these questions can give you some insight:

  1. Do I often experience unwanted, distressing thoughts or images that seem to come out of nowhere?
  2. Do I find myself trying to suppress or neutralize these thoughts with other thoughts or actions?
  3. Do I avoid certain situations, places, or people because they trigger distressing thoughts?
  4. Do I frequently seek reassurance from others about my fears or thoughts?
  5. Do I engage in mental rituals (like counting, praying, or repeating phrases) to alleviate distress or anxiety?

If you answered “yes” to several of these questions, it might be worth seeking a consultation with a mental health professional to discuss your experiences.


“Pure O” OCD can be distressing and debilitating, but it’s essential to remember that help is available. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), particularly a subtype called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), has been shown to be effective in treating OCD, including “Pure O.”

If you believe you might have “Pure O” OCD, or any form of OCD, it’s crucial to reach out to a mental health professional who can provide guidance, support, and potential treatment options. Remember, you’re not alone, and there’s help available.

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