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Relational OCD: symptoms, causes and treatment

Relational OCD: symptoms, causes and treatment

March 28, 2024

OCD is a pathology that is within the classification of anxiety disorders and can lead to a great disability in people's lives.

When talking about OCD, the most common thing is to think about those sickly subjects of order, cleanliness, contamination ... But really OCD can take any subject, and one not so well known is the Relational TOC . Do you want to meet him?

  • Related article: "Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): what is it and how does it manifest?"

What is relational TOC?

The Relational TOC focuses in the relationships that the person maintains with other individuals as children, parents, partner (OCD of loves), strangers ... even towards oneself. Very distressing obsessions are generated with respect to the objective person of the ruminations, being able to get to break the bonds that unite them to avoid the discomfort, and repeating the pattern in the similar relations.

These thoughts can be very painful, and begins a real investigation about the feelings towards the person , looking for the why, coming to doubt them and struggling to avoid them without success (the more you want to ignore a thought, the more it appears) unwittingly converting them into the most frequent topic of everyday life and generating a malaise that can incapacitate whoever suffers from the distraction and anxiety that it produces.

We will illustrate it with an example. A parent stressed by the beginning of raising their child involuntarily creates an image in which it appears by throwing it out the window. The thought is seen as something horrible, unacceptable, which happens to be analyzed again and again until reaching conclusions like: I thought that because I do not want my son, I am a psychopath and I should not raise him because I will hurt him.

Actually this person loves his son and would never hurt him, but when the chain starts and becomes common in the person's head, it seems impossible to stop and above all, it gives him truth that creates a very marked suffering.


The sequence of thoughts we have seen in the previous example is very common in OCD, since it tends to magnify the importance of the mind creating an image or a concrete idea causing the person to go crazy looking for reasons before something that It really is not responsible.

Adding blame, ruminations, search for inexhaustible reasoning, binary thinking , search for perfection and the non-acceptance of errors (all typical characteristics of people who suffer from OCD), creates a new world in which thoughts fit like being a horrible person for having had that image, being guilty for having thoughts of certain nature, inability to accept that he has not been responsible for this mental process and that it has no real repercussions, and so on.

The above makes the person victim of his mind and executioner of the actions that you start to carry out to prevent, check and look for a logic . One of those checks can be to look for and compare yourself with other people who share similarities as if the other part were the perfection in which to be reflected.

  • Maybe you're interested: "Types of Anxiety Disorders and their characteristics"


It is a vicious circle difficult to break that normally it rests on very rigid and strict cognitive patterns where to step out of that limit "supposes something horrible and unacceptable that you are guilty of". The need to have everything under strict control makes the thoughts that are supposed to be "bad" have been caused by the person "since he has everything under control and should be able to control what his head creates".

The anxiety generated can manifest as panic attacks at the thought or rumination of this or as a final response of the body to withstand very high levels of discomfort. On the other hand, the blaming component is shared by the depressive disorder , which can cause the TOC to become comorbid to the anxiety disorder, to the depressive one or to both.


If you know someone with this type of OCD or think you can suffer from it, do not panic: OCD is treatable in all its manifestations, the most effective way being the combination of psychotropic drugs with cognitive behavioral therapy. The pharmacological treatment must be dictated by a psychiatrist , which, depending on the symptoms, will recommend a specific type of medication.

No OCD is the same for different people and people are not equal in response, so we should not take medicines from an acquaintance with the same disorder. On the other hand, going to a psychologist to perform cognitive behavioral therapy will help to recognize the reason of the obsessive ideas and to work to feel better.

But beware! There are people who see an improvement when they leave therapy . Keep in mind that relational OCD is like all OCD's: they go through good and bad phases, and it is best to follow up with your therapist and psychiatrist, even if you feel better. And even more so, if we take into account that relational TOC normally occurs with people who are close to each other, so it is easy for there to be relapses due to multiple relational causes, due to phenomena such as atmospheric pressure changes during seasonal changes, or periods of time. Stressful

It is common for the person to keep these thoughts for months and even years without communicating them to anyone because of shame, fear ... even thinking that they do not really have an emotional pathology and the thoughts are accurate (the average for receiving specialized help is usually two years and medium).

But the reality is that when those who suffer from it talk to mental health professionals, their families and people involved, there is a point of support that can be fundamental for treatment and recovery. As other recommendations, sport is essential, as well as maintaining good communication, eating well and a good rest.

Bibliographic references:

  • Ferrali J. C. (1996). The obsessions and the art of the clinic. Developments in Psychiatry Argentina. Apsa
  • Kinney, J. M. (1995). Comprehension of affect in children with pervasive developmental disorders: Specific deficits in perceptual matching tasks. Washington DC: Human Neuropsychology Laboratory, American University.

OCD3: What is Relationship OCD (ROCD)? (March 2024).

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