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Can You Have OCD without Rituals?

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From a teen in the U.S.: I’m going to start this with I don’t know how I feel or if anything is wrong with me. I haven’t been diagnosed because I’m afraid of telling my family. I thought i had depression and anxiety because I had many of the symptoms, but lately I’ve been doubting that (because of intrusive thoughts). I also have intrusive thoughts that disturb me a lot (sexual, death, fear of faking it) and they make my life so hard.

They recently started back in the beginning of August. I’ve read many articles and the all point and say I have OCD but I don’t know. I don’t do the rituals like other people do. Like I said earlier, I have intrusive thoughts of “what if im faking this for attention/what if everything i feel is fake?” but no one else seems to have those and I’m scared that I’m faking it, but I know I don’t want to fake it.

Can You Have OCD without Rituals?

Answered by on -


I’m very glad you wrote. Many people are under the impression that a diagnosis of OCD requires both obsessions and compensatory compulsions. That simply is not the case. Yes, it is possible to have OCD with only the intrusive thoughts. And those thoughts can include the additional intrusive thought that you’re faking it.

One of the characteristics of true OCD is that the sufferer is aware that the thoughts are irrational. But the person can’t “reason” themselves out of them.

If that is the case for you, I hope you will talk to a counselor who specializes in OCD. The good news is that OCD can be managed, usually by a combination of medication (at least at first) and coaching in “thought stopping” and other techniques.

I’m sorry you don’t feel you can talk with your family about the problem. Maybe it would help if you showed them your letter and my response. Or maybe it would help to talk to a school counselor or another adult you trust who can then talk to your parents. Sometimes parents are more likely to listen to another adult they respect.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Can You Have OCD without Rituals?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Can You Have OCD without Rituals?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 11 Oct 2018 (Originally: 13 Oct 2018)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 11 Oct 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.