What is Obsession in Psychology?

Obsessive thoughts can disrupt your daily life, causing you distress and making it difficult to accomplish your goals. Obsession and compulsions are two important features of OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). The procedure of how our thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) are intertwined with OCD is significantly more complex, so we’ll go over that later in this part.

Obsession frequently entails a fear outcome, such as causing harm to oneself or others or being perceived as unethical, immoral, or undesirable.

Obsession can take the shape of continuous and uncontrollable thoughts in people with OCD. People can also take the form of continuous pictures, urges, anxieties, fears, doubts, or a combination of these. They are always uncomfortable, undesirable, and upsetting. People greatly impair the capacity to suffer to operate on a day-to-day basis since they’re so impossible to ignore.

People with OCD are completely aware that their obsessional thoughts are irrational, but they feel extremely real to them. They believe the only way to relieve the discomfort they induce is to engage in obsessive behaviors. Even when there is no link between their ideas and compulsive behavior, these compulsive behaviors perform out to prevent potential damage to oneself or, more often than not, a loved one.

History of Obsession

The issue is that obsessive thoughts will envelop the person with OCD. The word ‘obsession’ comes from the Latin word ‘observe,’ which means ‘to besiege.’

Naturally, the person who is being surrounded does not want or welcome the obsessive thoughts that cause such deep sorrow and despair. The person will go to great pains to prevent and oppose them. They usually return within a short amount of time, frequently lasting hours if not days, leaving the victim fatigued and spent mentally and physically.

Examples of Obsession

Someone with OCD, for example, may become obsessive with the fear of accidentally starting a fire in their home due to carelessness. The fear may become so strong that it motivates individuals to engage in compulsions to reduce the actual risk of damage and the discomfort and stress they are experiencing.

To lessen the perceived risk of a fire, a person with a harm preoccupation relating to fire may need to test all of the connections in their home before leaving the house. As a result, the anxiety along with the preoccupation is much reduced.

These are the list of examples.

  • People are fearful, or something/someone/somewhere is sick.
  • People worry about contracting HIV/AIDS or other widely reported illnesses like Bird Flu or Swine Flu.
  • Worrying that everything must be in a fixed location (sometimes symmetrically) for everything to seem ‘just perfect.’
  • Worrying about harming yourself or others physically.
  • Undesirable and uncomfortable psychological thoughts and sensations concerning gender, as well as a fear of acting aggressively with youngsters.
  • People worry about something bad will happen.
  • Thoughts of violence are undesirable and disturbing.
  • Fear that something horrible will happen if it isn’t checked.
  • People worry about the hit by a car while driving.
  • You have the uneasy sense you’re about to scream obscenities in public.

Types of Obsession

Being “obsessed” is not like thought about something or someone frequently with liking and gaining pleasure from the thoughts, contrary to popular misconceptions regarding OCD. OCD obsessions are upsetting, time-consuming, and fear-based.


Dirt, bacteria, bodily fluids, sickness, environmental pollutants, and chemicals are all frequent contaminating obsessions.


People who have harm obsessions may be terrified of harming themselves or others, of being responsible for something awful happening, or of accidentally harming others.

When persons with OCD have a harm-related obsession, they aren’t always afraid of harming on purpose. Instead, people worry about accidentally harming others via carelessness, which can result in compulsions check.


Obsessive thoughts, anxieties, or concerns regarding moral judgment and action are common in people with OCD (or “being good”). They may be apprehensive about offending God or blasphemy if they are religious.

Losing Control:

Some persons with OCD are afraid of losing control. They are anxious about injuring themselves or others by engaging in impulsive verbal behaviors such as criticizing someone or saying something taboo or immoral, as well as physical acts such as stealing or violence. The mental images along with these obsessions can be forceful or even threatening.


Evenness, exactness, symmetry, a desire to know or recall, being forcefully to follow a rigorous pattern or expectation, and an overall need for something to feel “just right” are all “just right” OCD obsessions.

Physical Illness:

People with OCD can have obsessions with illnesses in addition to germ contamination concerns. They may be preoccupied with fears of contracting a sickness or contracting one in the future.

People with OCD are sometimes acutely aware of physical functions such as swallowing or breathing. Obsessions related to illness, pain, or disease may increase in these somatic obsessions.

Superstitious Beliefs:

Certain numbers, colors, words, or phrases perceive as “fortunate” or “unlucky” by someone with OCD. If the latter is the case, they may go to considerable measures to avoid them, or if they are unable to, they may resort to compensating compulsive behaviors to alleviate their anxiety.

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