Some people have perfection compulsions that go far beyond the admirable quest for self-improvement. People who have this kind of OCD can often be found checking and rechecking their work or handwriting, among other things. They might also become “fanatical” about matters of diet, personal appearance, or other aspects of their lives. Common perfection obsessions include worrying about not writing or speaking well enough.

Some people who have this kind of OCD often try to do virtually everything perfectly, suffering a great deal of anxiety when that perfection is not achieved. Or the sufferer might, for instance, cut her own hair almost daily, forever seeking to perfect her look. (A sub-group of these seemingly “perfectionist” individuals actually has body dysmorphic disorder [BDD], an obsession with their own perceived bodily imperfection. BDD can cause sufferers to avoid social situations or to pursue frequent, unwarranted plastic surgery. In any case, it usually gives rise to a lot of distress.)

In some instances, people who have perfection compulsions do things extremely — even pathologically — slowly, to avoid making any mistakes.


Some people who have OCD feel a need to count things compulsively or to repeat routine actions a certain number of times in order to feel “okay.” A person who has this kind of OCD might turn the mailbox key a specific number of times whenever he retrieves the mail, walk up and down the front steps a set number of times whenever he leaves the house, or sit and then stand a ritualized number of times before being comfortably seated.

Fear of Objects, Places, or Situations

While some people who have OCD try as hard as possible to avoid illness, others stay away from certain things or situations altogether. These may include cemeteries, bridges, or heights, to name a few. Gephyrophobia, the fear of crossing a bridge, is surprisingly common. There are many others. Some people fear dogs (cynophobia) or other animals vomiting (emetophobia), blood (hemato- or hemophobia), or rabies (hydrophobophobia).

The number of objects or situations people fear is almost infinite. Again, just being afraid of, say, needles (belonephobia) would not necessarily mean that you have OCD. It is the degree to which your fear bothers you (and, indirectly, the people around you), directs your actions, and takes time away from other activities that may, or may not, indicate the presence of OCD.

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