Hello dear Brave one!

Here is this week’s spotlight on Just right/Symmetry OCD:

Just Right OCD is characterized by recurrent and persistent intrusive (unwanted) thoughts, urges or images about needing things to feel/be just right 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:

-Obsessive need to feel “just right” when doing activities of daily living

-Obsessive need for things to be in an exact spot, organized a certain way, done a certain way or in a certain order

Common Core Fears:

-Something terrible will happen (i.e. I need to feel just right or something bad will happen, this needs to be symmetrical/exact or my family will die) *we call this magical thinking when the fear is unrelated to the action

-Feeling responsible/regret for the terrible thing happening (i.e. if I had just flipped the light switch 3 more times, this wouldn’t have happened and wouldn’t be all my fault)

-It just feels wrong and that feels intolerable, uncomfortable and/or like it will last forever

Common Compulsions:

-Retracing steps until it feels right

-Checking a room until it feels right

-Getting dressed a certain way

-Doing things “evenly” (ie: touch something with right hand and must touch with left hand, eat same number of bites on either side of mouth, look out left window in car and have to look out the right)

-Re-doing activities of daily living (in/out of door, in/out of car, up/down from chair, on/off light switches) until it feels right

-Touching things in an exact or “just right” way

-Keeping things exactly in place, evenly distributed, symmetrical, spending excessive time lining things up/placing things down perfectly

-Counting steps, avoiding walking on cracks on sidewalk (or in between different flooring in home) or stepping the same amount of times on cracks for each foot

-Things need to be in their places (or you need to be in a specific place) and feel right in order to get anything done

-Excessively researching options to make sure you pick the “right” one

-Making sure everything on your nightstand is facing forward before you leave

-Needing certain colors to be on your plate for every meal and nothing is touching

-Volume on the TV/radio has to be an interval of 5, the microwave has to stop at an even number

We often see that there is a sense of finality that exacerbates the need to feel “just right” (i.e. when leaving a place/situation or right before going to sleep, it’s often more difficult to resist compulsions because you may not be back in that place/situation in the future or it’s the end of day and won’t be able to go back to un-do or re-do compulsions)

**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