Obsession in psychology

Obsession in psychology causes, symptoms & treatment

How many times have we been thinking about a situation without being able to stop? How many times does the same image cross your mind? Human beings use the mind for many activities in our day to day. When we think of something, images referring to a certain moment generally appear. The sounds that were part of the scene and the emotions that we have had may even be present.

However, sometimes we have thoughts that are not voluntary and arise spontaneously without our having anticipated it. These types of ideas seem to have no end and can be difficult to handle without the right data. Do you want to know more about this? In this Psychologyorg article, we will provide you with information about obsession in psychology, what it is, its causes, symptoms, and treatment.

Obsession in psychology

What is an obsession in psychology?

The definition of obsession in psychology refers to those thoughts, images, and memories that arise involuntarily and are constantly repeated in our minds. The obsessions can remain on the mental plane or lead to certain actions that a person feels that he must carry out to have some certainty regarding some fact that causes him concern.

This produces an unpleasant sensation in the person who suffers from the obsessions since they cannot control them. According to the DSM-V, this clinical picture is called obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Causes of Obsession in Psychology

Obsession in psychology appears due to certain factors that we will describe below:

  • Imitation of behaviors: human beings have references throughout life from which we acquire certain traits. Thus, one of the causes of obsession may be due to imitation of familiar behaviors with obsessive character patterns. It is possible that the person imitates these patterns and they last over time.
  • Unpleasant experiences: the fact of living stressful moments can lead to the formation of certain obsessions. For example, a person whose home has been robbed might have an obsessive habit of checking ten times to see if the door is locked before leaving, fearing that this situation will happen again.
  • Genetic aspects: the inheritance of genes could be linked to the appearance of obsessions since there are certain areas of the cerebral cortex that are in charge of processing information from the environment. In the case of people who suffer from obsessions, it is possible that the neural connections are different, although it is not fully proven.

Symptoms of Obsession in Psychology

To detect obsessions, it is important to know their modes of appearance since this will enable us to make a decision to address them in the best possible way. Next, we will mention the main symptoms of obsession in psychology:

  • Excessive fear of dirt. In this article, you will see how to overcome the obsession with cleanliness.
  • Imperious need to preserve order and/or cleanliness.
  • Repetitive and long-lasting behaviors: For example, checking to see if the lights are off over and over again.
  • Repetition of certain words that can represent something important to the person.
  • Difficulties to be in messy places.
  • Unpleasant thoughts about sex and religion.
  • The appearance of intense feelings of guilt.
  • Rigid and unchangeable lifestyle habits.

For these manifestations to be considered an obsession, they must be maintained over time. Likewise, the presence of any of these symptoms does not necessarily represent an obsession. The diagnosis must be carried out by a health professional, who will suggest an appropriate treatment for the needs of each patient, taking into account the characteristics and severity of each case.

Obsession in psychology

Treatment of Obsession in Psychology

How do you cure an obsession? There are some treatments to treat obsessions. The most recommended are the following:


Carrying out psychological therapy will allow us to address the problems that arise from obsessive behaviors and ideas. Within psychotherapy, there are two types of therapies:

  • Of short duration: treatments in which the resolution of problems is worked on based on techniques of progressive exposure to the stimuli that trigger the obsessions. This approach emphasizes the difficulties a person has in handling life situations and attempts to modify their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
  • Long-lasting: they try to find in the past the origin of the conflicts that a person has. This makes it possible to deal with certain situations in a different way since it is understood that current problems come from situations that occurred in the past. An example of this type of therapy is psychoanalysis.

Psychiatric medication

The administration of medicines is one of the treatments for obsession in psychology. The medication can alter the functioning of the brain, generating relief in the patient who suffers from obsessions. However, the use of psychiatric medications without the supervision of a mental health professional is not recommended.

If you want to read more articles similar to Obsession in Psychology: what it Is, causes, symptoms, and Treatment, we recommend that you enter our Mental Disorders category.


What is an obsession in psychology?

A: Obsession in psychology refers to a persistent, intrusive, and uncontrollable thought, impulse, or image that causes significant distress or anxiety. It is a common symptom of various psychological disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

What causes obsessions?

A: The exact cause of obsessions is not fully understood. However, research suggests that a combination of genetic, biological, and environmental factors may contribute to the development of obsessions. Imbalances in brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) like serotonin are also thought to play a role.

Are obsessions treatable?

A: Yes, obsessions are treatable. The primary approach to treating obsessions is psychotherapy, particularly cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy. Medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), may also be specified in some patients.

Can obsessions be completely eliminated?

A: Complete elimination of obsessions is the ideal goal of treatment, but it may not always be possible for everyone. However, with appropriate therapy and/or medication, most individuals can experience a significant reduction in the intensity and frequency of obsessions, leading to improved quality of life.

What are the common themes of obsessions?

A: Obsessions can revolve around a wide range of themes, but some common examples include contamination fears, symmetry and orderliness, aggressive or violent thoughts, sexual imagery or thoughts, and religious or moral concerns.

Share This Post:

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *