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What Are the Different Types of OCD?


Misinformation is one of the biggest problems surrounding the treatment and management of mental illnesses.

The pop-cultural idea of a mental illness is often divorced from the reality. For instance, would you recognize the real-life forms of OCD if you saw them?

We're here to clear up the confusion and look at the different types of OCD.

Types of OCD

Although there are no medically-defined subtypes of OCD, some research has grouped OCD into four distinct types of OCD behaviors. These are useful for treating the symptoms, as they provide direct, actionable ways of contextualizing and managing the condition.

Forbidden Thoughts

This is the category in which OCD perhaps overlaps most strongly with other mental health conditions. The individual suffers from intrusive thoughts that can be hard to control, which may have violent, sexual, or otherwise disturbing content. In rare cases, this can lead to coprolalia.

Secondary guilt from these forbidden thoughts can cause a great deal of mental distress, causing individuals to question their morality or sanity.


OCD individuals might have a pathologic need for symmetry, usually manifesting as a sense of physical and mental discomfort with asymmetry. They might also see symmetry as a means of preventing disaster—a misfiring of the brain's link between cause and effect.


The most archetypal of OCD symptoms, cleaning symptoms take the form of excessive concern about cleanliness. This can include feelings of never being clean, repetitive cleaning behaviors, and idiosyncratic rituals.

In some cases, cleaning compulsions can lead to physical injuries, like those caused by excessive scrubbing of delicate skin. Much like symmetry compulsions, cleaning-based symptoms can absorb large parts of an individual's day.


Hoarding relates to the acquisition of items and the refusal to throw them away. This kind of behavior shows up often in pop culture but rarely in context with OCD, so many people don't realize that the two are often linked.

As in symmetry symptoms, those with hoarding tendencies may harbor beliefs that bad things will occur if they don't act on their compulsions. Hoarding compulsions can be dangerous when unmonitored, leading to a hazardous living environment.

Do I Have OCD?

If you experienced some or all of the above, it could be a sign you have OCD. You may also have OCD if you experience a strong compulsive or obsessive behavior that reduces your quality of life. If you suspect you have OCD, speak to a mental health professional like those at sobanewjersey.com for a professional opinion.

Beware of the pop-cultural view of OCD. This would have you believe that OCD is merely a preference for a clean and neat environment. As a mental disorder, OCD is instead characterized as a set of behaviors causing significant distress and/or a reduced quality of life.

Types of OCD Explained

While there aren't any official types of OCD, grouping the signs and symptoms by the way they manifest helps us understand and explore the disorder. It also helps to combat the misinformation surrounding OCD.

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