Checking OCD

Checking OCD

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In this episode, we are going to discuss Checking OCD. Checking OCD is a sub-type where a person experiences intrusive thoughts, fears, or concerns (obsessions) that cause anxiety, doubt, or uncertainty and the person engages in a behavior (compulsions) called “Checking” to neutralize the uncomfortable feelings. 

People that suffer from Checking OCD feel the need to perform compulsive checking behaviors in order to reassure themselves about their fears. Some common checking rituals include checking if certain item(s) t have been left in the right place, checking if appliances or lights are turned off, checking if emails were written correctly, and even internal checking behaviors like checking whether or not they are feeling anxiety.

Enjoy the show.




All right. Hello and welcome to this episode where we're going to talk about checking OCD. So my name's Matt and I'm the founder of restored minds, and I'm also a licensed clinical social worker. And, um, in this episode, I want to talk about this idea of checking OCD. It's actually a request that we got from one of our, um, one of our viewers. So thank you so much for that. And any of you that ever have requests, please put them in the comments below. So we always like to, um, you know, take, take requests and ideas for episodes as well as we'd really appreciate your support by liking and subscribing and sharing, um, on your social platforms. Um, just because we want to try to get this out to as many people as possible. So, um, when it comes to checking OCD, the question about checking OCD, I kind of want to start there, right?


Because if we call it checking OCD, then we're, we're assuming that checking is the, is the form of OCD. And that's actually kind of a backwards question. Let me go ahead and explain what I mean. So when we talk about more, most forms of OCD, um, what, what we're usually categorizing them as is, um, the, the thoughts that the person is experiencing, right? So for instance, if someone has fears of getting a disease and they do a lot of washing rituals, right? We don't usually call it like washing OCD. We call it contamination OCD, because their fear is related to contamination. And same thing. If someone has intrusive thoughts about, uh, you know, harming someone, we call it usually harmo city, right? And the rituals they do are directly related to the intrusive thoughts that they have. Right? The reason we don't categorize the ritual as the type of OCT is because rituals can take on any form.


Right. And the rituals are actually the symptom, right. That we notice. Right. So when you see with you have a loved one, or you notice yourself checking things all the time, right. Checking is actually not it's the result of something, right? It's it's the behavior doing to neutralize a feared idea or a thought, right? Um, so with, with checking OCD, it's it checking is a very common compulsion, right? It was one of the big, main categories, but there's so many ways that check-in can manifest right. In a person's life. So if someone is worried, for instance, like the thought, right, the obsession of what if I left the stove on and my house burns down and that causes anxiety. Well, they might go back home to check the stove. Right. And you might see the person check the stove again. And again and again, right.


Someone might check the locks in the house, or the reason they're checking the locks is usually because of, well, what if something bad happens? What if someone breaks in, right. That thought starts, then the anxiety hits and then the checking is the behavior. Right. So I just want to kind of clarify that for a second, because it's important that we, um, we understand kind of why we're calling it checking OCD. Right. Cause it's a very common phrase and people use this phrase a lot, but checking is usually just the thing that a lot of people notice the person doing. Right. But why do you keep checking that, you know, or even your notice yourself doing, like, why do I keep checking? But a lot of times checking will also be internal. Right. And a lot of people don't realize this about like the compulsion of checking, right.


People will do things like check to see if they're having thoughts in their head that they don't like. Right. So when they wake up, it's kind of like a quick little mental scan. Like, am I having those thoughts? Right. Or even check to see if they're feeling anxious. Right. Like do like kind of physical check-ins like, is the anxiety there, you know? And they kind of draw their conscious attention into parts of their body where they know the anxiety has been before. So it might be in the chest. It might be kind of in their shoulders or, you know, just kind of their overall feeling state. Right. That's an example of checking. Um, there's also, you know, people who have like a worry that they might impulsively snap and do something right. They might check to see if they do anything. Like if, if they have the urge to do something.


So for instance, like, you know, I remember one time I had a client who was worried that they couldn't walk near like rails right. At the mall. Right. That were, you know, one or two stories up. I'm sorry. So, cause they were worried about what if I impulsively just jump off. Right. So the person would kind of as a compulsion right there. Cause the fear, again, the obsession is what if I jump off that, that produces the anxiety, the checking is to see like they might stand near the rail and kind of see like, am I going to jump off right. And try to like check to see if they feel this, if they feel this urge to jump. Right. And in this happens also with all sorts of intrusive thoughts as well. Right. So all the intrusive thoughts of like, you know, what, if I snap and harm someone, right.


Well, what might happen is someone might be cutting an onion with a knife and like start to check to see like, is my hand, am I in control? Like, you know, like checking to see how they, how the knife feels in their hand or someone with sexual intrusive thoughts. Right. Might, um, you know, look at a person and then scan to see if they feel aroused. Right. That's them internally checking. So when we talk about checking OCD, um, the reason I wanted to make this episode is because I just kinda wanted to, you know, help, help, uh, better. What's the word, I guess, better like open up the conversation as to what checking is, right? Checking is the behavior, right. It's actually not the form of OCD. In fact, I would argue almost every form of velocity usually does some kind of checking. Right. And so when we understand that checking is the behavior, then we can kind of circle back up the loop and say, well, why are you checking?


Right. And that gives us a better idea to what the catalyst for the behavior is. And that helps us better understand how to address that thought and how to respond to that thought correctly without doing the behavior of checking. Okay. So, um, because, because again, it's so important to understand that checking is just a symptom that we're seeing, right. But there's almost in every case that I've seen. Um, there's always the thought or the fear or the obsession, right. That starts, and then that anxiety kicks up or that feeling that uncertainty kicks up and that's what drives the checking behavior. But it's so important to remember that checking can be external, right? Things like locks and the stove and keys and all this other stuff, but it can also be internal. And if you're checking internally or externally, that is what's fueling the cycle and keeping that loop going.


So it's so important to understand why the checking behavior is being done in the first place. And that's when we can start to respond to the thoughts correctly and ultimately the anxiety correctly forgo the checking and that's, what's going to allow us to break out. So hopefully that's helpful and understanding kind of what checking OCD is. It's a great question. And I just wanted to kind of help break it down a little bit to help you understand what, how, like, what that is and how we would start to work with someone who checks a lot. So thank you so much for tuning in, and again, please help us out by subscribing and liking and commenting. We also have additional resources down in the notes, um, where that you can get over, uh, restored, the downloads and webinars, as well as live zoom calls with us, um, in Q and A's and whatnot. So thank you again for hanging out hope you guys have a great week and I look forward to seeing you on the next episode, take care.

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