What Is Pure O?
Pure O (which stands for ‘purely obsessional’) is (at the time of writing) a little known term used to refer to a form of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) ; OCD, as we have seen from other articles that I have previously published on this site, is a disorder that we are at higher risk than average of developing if we have suffered from significant and chronic childhood trauma.
‘Pure O’ manifests as internal, mental rituals that involve a compulsion to obsessively ruminate upon, and to turn over and over in one’s mind, the same repetitive, disturbing thoughts ad infinitum. These intrusive thoughts, which the affected individual finds impossible to dismiss from conscious awareness, are sometimes referred to as ‘spikes.’
Typically, the content of these distressing, intrusive and unbidden thoughts center upon irrational fears of carrying out a behavior that are abhorrent to one and utterly contrary and antithetical to one’s set of values, ethics and morals such as rape, murder or, if one is religious, some terrible form of blasphemy.
Example Of Pure O :
Indeed, I once saw a documentary about a man who suffered from this condition. He was obsessed by the idea that he might commit murder whilst sleepwalking at night and took his concern so seriously that, as a result, he never went to sleep without first chaining his ankle, complete with padlock, to the metal bed-frame each night (however, the hypothetical question of whether he could, in theory, retrieve the key, open the padlock and then commit murder – all in his sleep – was left unaddressed!). In any event, he was no more likely to commit murder in his sleep than anybody else – his concern was what could be termed a ‘delusional concern’ and solely a symptom of his psychiatric condition as opposed to being based on any real, objective risk.
How Does Pure O Differ From Main Forms Of OCD?
Pure O differs from the main forms of OCD in so far as the rituals one feels compelled to carry out are mental, internal, and, therefore, hidden from others and (unless one chooses to confide in others about them) secret ; this contrasts with the rituals carried out by those suffering from the main forms of OCD that tend to be observable by others (such as compulsive hand-washing or checking doors, windows etc are locked and secure).
Statistics Relating To Pure O :
The onset of Pure O tends to be between the ages of approximately 13 years of age and 25 years of age. It has been estimated that it affects about one per cent of individuals. However, this could be an underestimate as it is probable that many individuals don’t realize that they have the disorder or do not wish others to know about it so keep it secret and never seek professional help.
Treatments include COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY (CBT) and EXPOSURE AND RESPONSE PREVENTION (ERP)
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).