University of HoustonDepartment of Psychology
University of Houston


Gerhard Marcks, Albertus Magnus, 1970, bronze, University of Houston Percent for Art Collection.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

In the United States, roughly 2% of adults currently have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and twice that many have had it at some point in their lives. This disorder is characterized by uncontrollable obsessions and compulsions that are excessive, unreasonable, and distressing.


Obsessions are intrusive or inappropriate recurring thoughts or impulses that cause anxiety. Common obsessive thoughts include:


  1. Thoughts that one is contaminated by germs, dirt, or other substances
  2. Doubts about whether you correctly completed a task such as locking the door or turning off the stove
  3. Aggressive impulses
  4. Thoughts that you may have accidentally harmed someone
  5. Embarrassing or distressing thoughts of a sexual, religious/sacrilegious, or inappropriate nature
  6. A looming feeling that something "bad" is going to happen

Compulsions, on the other hand, are repetitive behaviors or rituals that are performed to reduce anxiety or neutralize the obsessive thought. Compulsions may involve behaviors such as:

  1. Excessive cleaning and washing
  2. Hoarding of useless items
  3. Checking and re-checking
  4. Repetitive time consuming routines
  5. Saying or thinking certain things to get rid of, or make amends for, the obsessive thought

In most cases, OCD usually involves having both obsessions and compulsions; however, a person with OCD may have only one or the other.


Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a treatable condition. Treatments such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which includes Exposure and Response Prevention, have repeatedly been shown to be the most powerful treatments for reducing or eliminating OCD. If you believe that you have OCD or any other problem with anxiety, and you want help with these difficulties, please contact the Anxiety Disorder Clinic at 713-743-8609 to schedule an assessment.












University of Houston

State of Texas Privacy and Policies Homeland Security Compact with Texans Reporting Copyright Infringement Contact U H Feedback Site Map Statewide Search U H System