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  • What Is Magical Thinking OCD?

    A number of people may be familiar with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). OCD is a mental disorder that involves unwanted thoughts that individuals will cope with through the use of compulsions.

    But did you know that there are actually various forms or categories of OCD? The various categories of OCD include checking, contamination, symmetry, hoarding, and intrusive thoughts.

    One subtype of obsessive-compulsive disorder that isn’t as well known as other forms of OCD is magical thinking OCD. Let’s learn more about what magical thinking OCD is, the cause, the signs and symptoms, and different treatment options.

    What Is Magical Thinking OCD?

    Magical thinking OCD is a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder that involves the use of both rituals and superstitious beliefs. The idea behind magical thinking OCD is that the person strongly believes that their own thoughts or actions can help to prevent harm or prevent something bad from happening.

    Magical thinking OCD is similar to someone knocking on wood as a way to not jinx themselves. Although the fear and the action of knocking on wood don’t correlate with one another, a person with magical thinking OCD will believe that their actions help to prevent something bad from occurring. While people with magical thinking OCD don’t actually have or know magic, they will experience magical beliefs that they believe will help rid them of their fear. Most of these obsessions and compulsions are related to superstitious thoughts that they may have.

    The Downside of Magical Thinking OCD

    OCD typically has unhealthy forms of coping mechanisms. Magical thinking OCD is no different. While individuals who experience magical thinking OCD use their compulsions as a way to relieve their anxious and unwanted thoughts temporarily, their reliance on these types of thoughts and behaviors can lead to issues in their daily life and routine. Over time, this way of thinking can take over and control someone’s actions and behaviors.

    Obsessions of Magical Thinking OCD

    People who struggle with magical thinking OCD struggle with intrusive and unwanted thoughts that make them fearful of something happening to others or themselves unless they are involved in a compulsion that doesn’t relate to the matter at hand. Here are a few of the different obsessions that can come along with magical thinking OCD:

    • If I have a bad thought, I will go to hell.
    • If I don’t check the lock on the door multiple times, someone will break in.
    • If I don’t check the oven or my curling iron to make sure they’re off and/or unplugged, the house will burn down.
    • If I don’t wear a specific clothing item, someone in my family will get hurt or sick.

    Compulsions of Magical Thinking OCD

    With the obsessions also comes the compulsions. Here are some of the most common compulsions of magical thinking OCD:

    • Arranging items in a particular way or order.
    • Avoiding unlucky items or actions like stepping on a crack in the sidewalk or certain numbers, colors, or dates that are associated with unluckiness.
    • Repeating certain thoughts or words almost like a mantra to help get rid of negative thoughts.
    • The use of positive or good numbers with behaviors and actions throughout the day.
    • Touching or repeating an action until it feels just right.

    Next Steps

    Similar to other forms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, treatment for magical thinking OCD follows a similar plan. While there are certain tips, tricks, and lifestyle changes you can implement on your own end to help reduce some signs and symptoms that you may be experiencing, reaching out for support is encouraged.

    If you suspect that you or a loved one are struggling with magical thinking OCD, seeking additional support from a licensed and trained mental health professional can go a long way. Working with a therapist can help you get to the root cause of your obsessions and compulsions. Reach out to us to schedule your first appointment.