OCD Themes

A theme is the subject in which OCD has latched on to obsessing over. Usually these will come in the form of taboo and unspoken subjects in society which is a huge contributor in keeping sufferers silent - the are terrified of speaking up through fear of being reprimanded simply because they have no control over their thoughts.

Harm OCD

This theme is consistent of intrusive thoughts about harming yourself or someone else, usually involving a loved one. These intrusive thoughts are usually based around intrusive images/urges and or demands. They can range from thoughts of harming your child to stabbing your partner in the middle of the night while they sleep. There is no limit to what intrusive thoughts can come up with and can involve anything and anyone.

Contamination OCD

Contamination OCD is the one that is most (poorly) portrayed in the media. Stereo typically based around hand washing and liking things neat and clean. This is BS, because anyone who has OCD will tell you there is not one single thing to like about having OCD!

Commonly, this theme is an irrational fear of contracting an illness and/or a deadly disease i.e sexually transmitted diseases, purely from touching something, that can end one’s life or be passed on to others along with feeling an intense responsibility of keeping not just loved ones safe but anyone they might come in to contact with.

Relationship OCD

This one’s a bugger! And has strong potential to destroy otherwise healthy relationships if you don’t know what Relationship OCD is.

This can include intrusive thoughts about your partner and the relationship itself such as ‘do I love my partner enough?’, ‘what if I cheated and don’t remember?’, ‘what if they don’t love me anymore, how can I be certain of this?’, ‘I didn’t feel as aroused as I usually do while being intimate, this must mean I don’t love them anymore!’

This theme also like to pick out all of the partners flaws, like, their skin isn’t perfect, is their nose too big, are their teeth straight enough, they don’t look like Brad Pitt / Kim Kardashian- this must mean I’m not attracted to them enough / anymore. The list is endless!

*This only applies to nontoxic relationships, it is never okay to act on any form of violence, manipulation or abuse and this theme is not an excuse for toxic behaviour within a relationship. *

Moral Scrupulosity

A preoccupation with being immoral, a constant cycle of questioning whether they have been immoral in some way, for example, did they say something offensive, did they steal from a store and not realise, did they inadvertently jump a queue or did they behave immorally by society’s standards. There’s an intense need to know if they have offended someone, if they did steal or queue jump an inability almost to be uncertain, these intense intrusive thoughts often produce feelings of guilt and shame.


This one is super annoying, mostly because so many people believe it’s a helpful trait to have when in fact it’s a complete nightmare! Perfectionism is very time consuming, mentally draining and very unhelpful. Perfectionism is usually packed with intrusive thoughts about how a task must be performed perfectly or performed continuously until it is perfect. Perfectionism can also go the opposite way and cause procrastination- you’ll do anything other than the task you actually need to do due to intense fear of not doing it perfectly, Intrusive thoughts of how you’ll do it wrong, you’ll take too long, be laughed at and / or get into trouble for doing it wrong along with intrusive thoughts of not being good enough which often times leads to avoidance.

Religious OCD

Commonly goes hand in hand with moral scrupulosity and usually attacks those who are religious because it’s something they value. This theme often produces intrusive thoughts about committing a sin, not praying enough, going to hell, the rightness of worshiping, questioning their religion, praying correctly, repeating religious mantras and a strong urge to confess supposed sins.

Sexual Orientation OCD

This theme can be extremely confusing. It consists of constantly questioning your sexual orientation- you’ve been straight / gay for your entire life, you’ve known you’re gender preferences then, bam! You suddenly notice someone of the opposite orientation and you’re questioning everything you ever thought you knew about yourself! For example-‘why did I notice that person?’ 'Why can’t I stop thinking about that person?’ 'What if I’m denial about my sexual orientation?’ ‘What if I suddenly become gay / straight and destroy everyone’s lives around me, causing heartbreak and chaos.’ Relationship OCD usually tags along with this one, they’re like besties!

Paedophilia OCD

Ooof, this one is rough!

The one that no one wants to talk about, probably the taboo-est of all themes.

There’s gonna be assholes out there that refuse to understand / do the 5-minute research into what this theme is. Having this theme does NOT mean that you are a paedophile!! This theme comes with intrusive thoughts/images of sexually harming children, it can manifest in different ways, they can be disturbingly graphic, or they can be by association, for instance: I like the movie Moana, this must mean I’m a paedophile’. I used a beach towel with Mickey Mouse on it, what if this means I’m a paedophile?’ I used my kids bubble bath – this means I’m a paedophile!’ ‘What if I enjoy these thoughts?’ ‘I’m a monster and should be locked up, I shouldn’t ever be around children!’

This theme is excruciatingly torturous to the person with OCD, and they want nothing more than to never have these thoughts again.

This one like to play mind tricks on the sufferer, it distorts memories and causing an endless cycle of questioning, did I do that, did this really happen, what if I’m remembering wrong and I did something bad or hurt someone and I don’t remember properly, or they could just be completely fabricated by the OCD mind.

Emotional Contamination

This is one that can spread like wildfire in the brain and can completely debilitate the sufferer because of how fast it can grow. A lot of emotional contamination is by association, for example, I had this intrusive thought while I was wearing this pink top, this pink top is touching my jeans now my jeans are contaminated, my jeans are touching my socks, my socks are now contaminated and so on, you get the point. Or, I had an intrusive thought while I was talking to this person now everything this person touches is contaminated with the intrusive thought I had.

Just right OCD

Everything needs to feel just right before you can move on with your day. And its not just a regular feeling of satisfaction, it’s an intense, debilitating, fear centred feeling driven by intrusive thoughts that something bad will happen to you or a loved one or that something like a presentation will go horribly wrong so there’s an intense need to do things just right.

Pure O

There’s a lot of misconception around this because of it’s name. One might believe that they purely have the obsessions and no compulsions. Actually, the compulsions are mental rather than physical and very hard to pick up on for the sufferer and the clinician treating. This is just as exhausting as any other theme and just as time consuming, just because a compulsion can’t be seen, doesn’t mean it’s not being done. Avoidance is a huge part of Pure O.


This involves animals and pets, intrusive thoughts of sexual activity with a pet, questioning if you’re attracted to your pet or any animal, worried you may have performed a sexual activity with an animal but don’t remember, feeling like you shouldn’t be near animals or that you are a danger to animals.

Whilst this is a list of the main OCD themes, it is not extensive. So don’t worry if you don’t see what you’re struggling with. Basically if you can’t stop thinking about it and it causes you significant distress I encourage you to talk to someone you trust and seek help if your thoughts are interfering with your daily life for example, they stop you from doing things you usually enjoy doing or make daily tasks difficult or impossible to carry out.