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Pure-O OCD and Depersonalization

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I need some advice on the issues I’ve been dealing with recently. I was recently diagnosed with pure-o OCD around 3 months ago. I’ve been managing the OCD without any medication and purely with CBT, diet, and exercise. I have some good days but mostly bad. I also think I suffer from depersonalization. It has happened to me on occasion before the OCD hit, but it happened more often after I smoked marajuana for the first time. It’s gotten worse since the OCD hit. I’m just curious if this is actually depersonalization I’m experiencing or something else.. It’s usually worse after I’ve gotten through a tough OCD episode, like I have nothing else to worry about so suddenly the DP hits. I’ll describe the feeling the best I can, it’s mostly just an “off” feeling. I don’t feel in touch with my inner self, or rather that I’m lacking an inner self. I feel like my brain isn’t mine, that it’s someone else’s? And that I’ve lost myself. Things in reality look real, I’ve never experienced DR with the DP. I feel numb a lot of the time, kind of like I’m empty, a shell of who I used to be. When I talk to people I feel like I’m putting on a show, like I know what to say, how to act, but I don’t really feel it? I feel almost like a robot, controlled by my brain but not really by “me”. I just feel so off, and I have a lot of anxiety about it. I used to be so sure of who I was until the OCD hit. It’s like I’ll be thinking about the fact of thinking, I keep examining the own inner workings of brain, and it’s so strange and difficult to describe. Like I don’t feel like I’m human or that I have a personality, I literally just feel like a robot going through the motions but not actually feeling anything. It’s horrible. I also get really distressed because I suffer from harm OCD, usually when the DP hits it triggers the harm OCD because I worry I have no empathy because of how “off” I feel. I worry often that I’m going to go insane and suddenly lose touch with reality or hurt someone. Is this DP or something else?! Help please.

Pure-O OCD and Depersonalization

Answered by on -


Purely obsessional OCD indicates that you have an unwanted thought followed by mental activity or rumination about how to avoid or solve re-experiencing the unwanted thought. This pattern can be emotionally depleting. It isn’t clear from your description if the depersonalization experiences you describe are a way of you avoiding unwanted thoughts — or if you are experiencing it as well.

I would encourage you to work with the person who diagnosed you to help sort this through. Since you have only had the diagnosis for 3 months, it is a good time to develop an ongoing connection through therapy with this professional.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Pure-O OCD and Depersonalization

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Pure-O OCD and Depersonalization. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 5, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 25 Sep 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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