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Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Main characteristics of an obsessive-compulsive disorder are recurrent obsessive thoughts and compulsive acts.

Obsessive thoughts are ideas, images or impulses which occupy the minds of affected people and which are almost always of agonizing character. Individuals concerned often try to resist without success. Obsessive thoughts are experienced as belonging to the own person, even if they are experienced as involuntary and repulsive in most cases.

Compulsive acts or rituals are stereotypes which are repeated constantly. Neither are they felt enjoyable, nor do they serve any meaningful purpose. Patients often experience these thoughts as preventive action against a objectively viewed unlikely event which would be harmful for the patient or in which the patient would cause mischief. In general patients view their behaviour as pointless and ineffective and repeatedly try to take action against it. Fear is always present. The fear intensifies significantly if compulsive actions are suppressed.

Screening Questions

  • Do you repeat actions (e.g. checking if the door is locked, washing your hands) or thoughts (e.g. the thought of harming someone else) again and again though you actually do not want to do so?
  • Do you experience intense fear or discomfort when resisting these actions or thoughts?
  • Is this occupying a majority of your time and is this adversly affecting your professional as well as your private life?


Univ.-Prof. Dr.rer.nat.

Anne Schienle

Phone:+43 316 380 - 5086

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