What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder OCD?

What is OCD?

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a disorder in which a person suffers from uncontrollable obsessive thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive actions (compulsions). In the DSM-5, OCD is classified as an anxiety disorder.

Recall the times when a catchy melody wouldn’t leave your head: no matter what you do, it keeps spinning and is terribly irritating. Now imagine that this is not a melody, but a thought or idea – terrifying and unbearable: „I am the culprit of the accident”, „I wish harm to my loved ones, and because of this something bad will happen to them”, „I left the iron on and my the house is already on fire.” The person with OCD knows they haven’t done any of these things: they drive carefully, they love their loved ones, and they checked the iron ten times before leaving. But thoughts and emotions do not stop.

If you have doubts about your condition, you can contact us to arrange a consultation with a psychotherapist or psychiatrist. The Synapsa Lesser Poland Psychotherapy Center in Krakow offers psychodynamic therapy with various specialists so that each patient can find a psychologist according to their needs.

Compulsions are just as intrusive and subjectively important, but there’s no point in doing things like turning a light off and on until you do it „right”. As a rule, compulsions help to temporarily get rid of obsessions or simply reduce their intensity. However, OCD sometimes occurs without an obsessive or compulsive element.


Obsession: Fear of pollution and contamination

Compulsion: Clean the apartment to perfection, wash until destruction several times a day, do not touch things directly on the street and on public transport (do it with gloves or a napkin)

The desire for cleanliness and order is absolutely normal for humans. But with OCD, it takes an exaggerated form. Dirt and microbes seem to be everywhere, it is impossible to cope with fear and disgust – which makes a person compulsively clean himself and the space around.

Obsession: Fear of hurting yourself and others

Compulsion: Repeatedly checking all potentially dangerous situations

Is the iron turned off? And the stove? Is the door locked? It is not enough for a person with obsessive compulsive disorder to check it once: they do not trust their memories that they have already done it. Horrible images of fire or robbery flash through the mind and force you to constantly check for sources of danger.

Obsession: Fear of materializing one’s „bad” thoughts

Compulsion: Rituals

A person with this type of OCD thinks they can do something terrible: kill, maim, or hurt loved ones. He knows he doesn’t want to do it – but he’s afraid he’ll do it anyway. „Rituals” help to get rid of anxiety: for example, arrange books in alphabetical order, knock fifteen times on the table, step

only on white tiles. Man is irrationally convinced that if he does this, no one will suffer.

Obsession: Inappropriate attachment to things, fear of losing them

Compulsion: Hoarding items

At home, a person with this form of OCD will have many things that objectively have no value, but seem extremely important to them: unwanted clothes, old magazines, used packaging. It seems that as soon as you throw something away, it will certainly be observed by observing the first symptoms in yourself or your loved ones, it is worth consulting a psychologist. The earlier the therapeutic work begins, the less harm will be done to the sufferer, and the more effective the treatment will be.

In extreme cases of OCD, a visit to a psychiatrist and the use of pharmacological treatment may also be necessary.


There are several theories as to why people develop OCD. One of them explains the formation of obsessive-compulsive disorder based on genetics. If someone in your family has suffered from OCD, you also run the risk of acquiring the disorder. However, scientists have yet to find the gene or group of genes responsible for OCD.

Psychodynamic theory suggests that deep intrapersonal conflict is behind OCD. A person cannot realize, accept and solve a serious problem, but this problem still causes anxiety. Later, the sufferer unconsciously finds another source of anxiety, simpler and more understandable: dirt, germs, fire risk, etc.


It is worth contacting a psychotherapist if you:

  • you notice that disturbing, aggressive, strange ideas come to your mind and you can’t get rid of them;
  • intrusive thoughts occur daily and you focus on them for a long time (more than an hour);
  • you feel that something bad could happen if you don’t take certain actions;
  • Plans have been canceled at least once because you need to do something.

Many people with OCD are afraid to talk about their symptoms because of their shyness. Aggressive or strangely intrusive thoughts do not make a person angry or crazy. Psychologists-psychotherapists at the Synapse Lesser Poland Psychotherapy Center in Krakow will certainly not judge in such categories, because they know that something is wrong with the person, and strange behaviors occur against their will.