OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is repeated and unwanted thoughts that an individual experiences.  These include words, images and actions that affect behaviour or thoughts.  An example of an unwanted thought is the fear of contamination from infection.  An individual with OCD may also experience checking behaviours or neutralising thoughts. BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder) is excessive worrying thoughts about a perceived imperfection in the individual’s appearance, which causes marked distress.

OCD and BDD are often maintained by:

  • Misunderstanding that an unwanted thought will lead to something bad happening.
  • The individual may take responsibility for bad things happening to themselves or others and believes they should be able to control unwanted thoughts.
  • The individual may want things to be perfect all of the time and also be intolerant of uncertainty.

Psychological help may typically involve exposing you to the situation you are avoiding and helping to reduce your focus on unhelpful thinking and behaviour. You may also be helped to understand that OCD is about worrying about a threat, not the need to prevent a threat.


Learning simple techniques will help you control the meaning you attach to intrusive thoughts.