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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) involves obsessions and/or compulsions. "Obsessions are persistent ideas, thoughts, impulses, or images that are experienced as intrusive and inappropriate and that cause marked anxiety and distress."1 Compulsions are repetitive behaviors which the individual engages in, the goal of which is to prevent or reduce anxiety or distress.1

"When attempting to resist a compulsion, the person may have a sense of mounting anxiety or tension that is often relieved by yielding to the compulsion."1

Some examples of obsessions:

  • Fear of dirt or contamination by germs.
  • Fear of causing harm to another.
  • Fear (unfounded) of having harmed another person.
  • Fear of making a mistake.
  • Fear of leaving the house unlocked or the stove on.
  • Fear of being embarrassed or behaving in a socially unacceptable manner.
  • Fear of thinking evil, gross or sinful thoughts.
  • Need for order, symmetry or exactness.
  • Intrusive sexually explicit or violent thoughts or images.
  • Excessive doubt and the need for constant reassurance.

Some examples of compulsions:

  • Repeatedly bathing, showering or washing hands.
  • Refusing to shake hands or touch doorknobs.
  • Repeatedly calling the police because you have a strong feeling that you may have run over someone while driving.
  • Repeatedly checking things, such as locks or stoves.
  • Inappropriately divulging evil, gross, or other embarrassing thoughts or behaviors to another person.
  • Constant counting, mentally or aloud, while performing routine tasks.
  • Constantly arranging things in a certain way.
  • Eating foods in a specific order.
  • Repeating specific words, phrases or prayers.
  • Needing to perform tasks a certain number of times.
  • Collecting or hoarding items with no apparent value.

The occurrence and severity of OCD is usually correlated with stress and anxiety. Anything you can do to reduce these will help.

Secular treatment for OCD includes Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, psychotropic medication and, in extreme cases, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and even psychosurgery.2

I'm no fan of psychotropic drugs or the use of any other extreme measure. These are used because secular therapy, by itself, doesn't usually work.

Using Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for OCD is always appropriate. You can always tell yourself things like "The door is locked" etc. Say it out loud. Sometimes this does help.

However, OCD sufferers are usually unable to make much progress using only secular therapy. Even though they realize what they are doing is irrational. That's because spiritual warfare is involved. That's where the Bible comes in.

In order to use biblical interventions for your OCD, it is necessary to first get saved.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is, for the most part, the result of demonic activity. More specifically, there is a spiritual foothold that is the result of the sin of fear. So how should we respond? Just do what the Bible says to do.

First: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7 NASB)."

Don't worry and don't do anything foolish, even if it feels like you must. Instead, just bring the issue to God in prayer, with thanksgiving. Listen to God and surrender the issue to Him. Trust God. Obey God. Use Scripture as appropriate. Then go to the next step.

Second: "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:8-9 NASB.)."

Focus your mind on good things. Think about five things you can thank God for. And thank Him. Then think about something else. That's all you have to do. I think you'll be surprised how well this works.

The two Scriptures just mentioned can and should be memorized.

Remember: "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But he who walks wisely will be delivered (Proverbs 28:26 NASB)." God expects us to act wisely and provides what we need to do so.

Anytime you're struggling with obsessions and/or compulsions, this is a time to exercise your firm—and unwavering—faith in God.

Practice not doing what the Devil wants you to do. Success is the result of repeated decisions not to yield to demonic pressure.

As you practice not yielding, the OCD will diminish over time.

So that's it. The Bible gives us the tools necessary to successfully cope with OCD. But don't expect an absolute cure. We all experience spiritual warfare in some way. The Devil never, ever, gives up.

1 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 4 TR), Pages 457-458.


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