There is a difference between an obsessive or compulsive personality type and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). OCD is driven by anxiety and intrusive thoughts that get in the way of daily functioning.
The two main parts of OCD are obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are defined by recurrent thoughts, images or impulses that the person cannot ignore or control. Compulsions are the behaviors or repetition of thoughts a person must complete in order to counteract or neutralize an obsession they are experiencing.
There is no “cure” for OCD, but it can be treated with a combination of medication, exposure therapy and psychotherapy. Some find that it can be helpful to try to resist the compulsions by questioning the reasonableness of the obsessions, though this is not always possible depending on the severity of the disorder.
Most of the time, people with OCD would prefer not to engage in the repetitive thoughts or behaviors. A lot of times the need to complete their rituals can be torturous and time-consuming.
Obsessions can relate to cleanliness, contamination, religion, sex, violence, loss of control, physical harm or perfectionism. Compulsions might include cleaning, checking on something, repeating activities or mental rituals such as counting. Obsessions and compulsions can vary widely for each individual. Most people recognize what they are doing doesn’t make sense, though some – especially children – do not.
There are several foundations specializing in OCD that are available as resources. There are also organizations and support groups to help those who may be struggling with OCD.