A compulsion is a repetitive behavior or mental act that someone feels they need to carry out to try to temporarily relieve the unpleasant feelings brought on by the obsessive thought.
Some common obsessions that affect people with OCD
A fear of deliberately harming yourself or others – for example, fear you may attack someone else, even though this type of behavior disgusts you.
A fear of harming yourself or others by mistake or accident – for example, fear you may set the house on fire by accidentally leaving the cooker on.
A fear of contamination by disease, infection or an unpleasant substance.
A need for symmetry or orderliness – for example, you may feel the need to ensure all the labels on the tins in your cupboard face the same way.
Compulsions arise as a way of trying to reduce or prevent the harm of the obsessive thought. However, this behavior is either excessive or not realistically connected at all.
The problem persists because the compulsive behavior maintains and perpetuates the problem so CBT for OCD addresses all parts of the problems by helping people to react differently to their thoughts and to eliminate compulsive behaviors.