Hello dear Brave one!


Here is this week’s spotlight on Hyper-Responsibility OCD:

Hyper-responsibility OCD is characterized by recurrent and persistent intrusive (unwanted) thoughts, urges or images about being responsible for something terrible happening along with compulsive, repetitive behaviors or mental acts aimed at reducing anxiety/distress or preventing a feared outcome from happening, all of which cause distress and impairment in functioning.

Common Obsessions:

-Excessive fear that something you did or did not do caused harm to someone else and it is all your fault

-Excessive fear of being pregnant and not knowing it after using alcohol

-Excessive fear you did something terrible in the past and just don’t remember it (also referred to as false memory OCD)

-Excessive fear you caused permanent emotional or physical harm to someone else

-Excessive fear you hit someone while driving and didn’t know it

-Excessive fear you poisoned someone or did not cook something thoroughly and will make someone sick

-Intrusive images that you fear are things you actually did

-Excessive fear you will end up in jail

-Excessive fear that someone around you was somehow harmed and you ignored it/did nothing

-Excessive fear that you are secretly a terrible person

-Excessive fear you left something plugged in/on that will cause a fire at home/work

-Excessive fear you did not lock/shut doors at your house which will cause someone to break in and murder your family

-Excessive fear of being reported because of your intrusive thoughts

-Excessive fear of sharing intrusive thoughts with others

Actual triggers/intrusive thoughts reported by clients:

-What if my dog hit their head and has a concussion and I didn’t notice it or do anything about it?

-What if this person gets COVID-19 because they took something that might not have been theirs and I didn’t stop them?

-What if I am pregnant but don’t know it (after drinking alcohol) and killed my baby?

-What if that bump I ran over in my car was actually a person? Did I see the person/biker crossing the street get to the other side safely?

-What if my playful joke to my partner caused them permanent emotional damage?

-What if I didn’t cook this meat well enough and my family gets sick? What if a sliver of the can I just opened fell in the food and cuts a loved one?

-What if that kid who had a scratch on their arm is being abused and I didn’t report it?

-What if I yelled out something offensive?

-What if I lose control when I get angry and harm someone?

-What if I bumped into someone too hard and hurt them?

-Was that intrusive image of me punching someone real?

-What if the cleaning spray got on the plate on the counter and my loved one eats off it and dies?

-Fear that if I don’t say “see you later” and instead say “goodbye” that my loved one will die in a car accident and it will be my fault

Common core fears:

-Being a bad person (fear of losing identity, not being who you thought you were)

-Going to Hell/prison (fear of losing meaning/purpose in life)

-Feeling responsible, regretful, guilty for the rest of your life

-Being socially rejected and alone, losing people you love, being looked at as a bad person (fear of being abandoned/alone)

Common Compulsions:

-Replaying memories/images/events (also called mental reviewing)

-Ruminating/trying to figure out if your fear is real/the situation is your fault

-Confessing intrusive thoughts/images/fears to a loved one

-Self-punishment/acting as if guilt/regret for sure means it’s all your fault and you for sure are a terrible person (telling yourself you don’t deserve to be happy and not taking steps towards your own goals or not allowing yourself to enjoy any part of your life, acting guilty even though you don’t know for sure that anything bad happened or that it was your fault)

-Checking to see if something terrible happened (following up with the person your OCD says you are responsible for harming, checking locks, checking appliances, driving by the area where your fear occurred, checking news outlets, checking for warrants for your arrest)

-Reassurance seeking/self-reassurance: repeatedly asking others if this is your fault, asking others if they would feel guilty, telling yourself it’s okay repeatedly, repeatedly asking others (surveying) if it’s okay

**Please note: themes help us get more information out to individuals suffering with OCD, but anything can become obsessive and/or compulsive and themes can overlap. It’s also important to remember that the content of OCD is not important, it’s all the same mechanisms responding to different triggers. We recommend working with a therapist trained in ERP.


Stay Brave! -The OCD MN Team