About all

Obsession example: What Are Common Obsessions and Compulsions?


What Are Common Obsessions and Compulsions?

Everyday Health: What are some common obsessions and compulsions of people living with OCD?

Jeff Szymanski, PhD (ocfoundation.org)

Obsessions: Thoughts, images, or impulses that occur over and over again and feel out of the person’s control. The person does not want to have these ideas. He or she finds them disturbing and unwanted, and usually knows that they don’t make sense. They come with uncomfortable feelings, such as fear, disgust, doubt, or a feeling that things have to be done in a way that is “just right.” They take a lot of time and get in the way of important activities the person values. Compulsions: Repetitive behaviors or thoughts that a person engages in to neutralize, counteract, or make their obsessions go away. People with OCD realize this is only a temporary solution, but without a better way to cope, they rely on the compulsion as a temporary escape. Compulsions can also include avoiding situations that trigger obsessions. Compulsions are time consuming and get in the way of important activities the person values.

Common Obsessions in OCD


  • Body fluids (examples: urine, feces)
  • Germs/disease (examples: herpes, HIV)
  • Environmental contaminants (examples: asbestos, radiation)
  • Household chemicals (examples: cleaners, solvents)
  • Dirt

Losing Control:

  • Fear of acting on an impulse to harm oneself
  • Fear of acting on an impulse to harm others
  • Fear of violent or horrific images in one’s mind
  • Fear of blurting out obscenities or insults
  • Fear of stealing things


  • Fear of being responsible for something terrible happening (examples: fire, burglary)
  • Fear of harming others because of not being careful enough (example: dropping something on the ground that might cause someone to slip and hurt him/herself)


  • Concern about evenness or exactness
  • Concern with a need to know or remember
  • Fear of losing or forgetting important information when throwing something out
  • Inability to decide whether to keep or to discard things
  • Fear of losing things

Unwanted Sexual Thoughts:

  • Forbidden or perverse sexual thoughts or images
  • Forbidden or perverse sexual impulses about others
  • Obsessions about homosexuality
  • Sexual obsessions that involve children or incest
  • Obsessions about aggressive sexual behavior towards others

Religious Obsessions (Scrupulosity):

  • Concern with offending God, or concern about blasphemy
  • Excessive concern with right/wrong or morality

Other Obsessions:

  • Concern with getting a physical illness or disease (not by contamination, e. g., cancer)
  • Superstitious ideas about lucky/unlucky numbers, certain colors

Common Compulsions in OCD

Washing and Cleaning:

  • Washing hands excessively or in a certain way
  • Excessive showering, bathing, tooth brushing, grooming or toilet routines
  • Cleaning household items or other objects excessively
  • Doing other things to prevent or remove contact with contaminants


  • Checking that you did not/will not harm others
  • Checking that you did not/will not harm yourself
  • Checking that nothing terrible happened
  • Checking that you did not make a mistake
  • Checking some parts of your physical condition or body


  • Rereading or rewriting
  • Repeating routine activities (examples: going in or out doors, getting up or down from chairs)
  • Repeating body movements (example: tapping, touching, blinking)
  • Repeating activities in “multiples” (examples: doing a task three times because three is a “good,” “right,” “safe” number)

Mental Compulsions:

  • Mental review of events to prevent harm (to oneself, others, to prevent terrible consequences)
  • Praying to prevent harm (to oneself, others, to prevent terrible consequences)
  • Counting while performing a task to end on a “good,” “right,” or “safe” number
  • “Cancelling” or “Undoing” (example: replacing a “bad” word with a “good” word to cancel it out)

Other Compulsions:

  • Collecting items that results in significant clutter in the home (also called hoarding)
  • Putting things in order or arranging things until it “feels right”
  • Telling, asking, or confessing to get reassurance
  • Avoiding situations that might trigger your obsessions

Jonathan Abramowitz, PhD (jabramowitz. com)

Common obsessions include: fears of contamination/germs, causing harm (perhaps by hitting someone with a car that you don’t mean to), making mistakes (leaving the door unlocked), disasters (causing a fire), certain numbers (such as 13 and 666), unwanted violent thoughts (thought of harming a loved one), blasphemous thoughts (cursing God), sexual thought (what if I’m a child molester, gay, or want to have sex with my mother?), need for symmetry and exactness, and thoughts that something is terribly wrong with your body (what if I have cancer?). A general theme is that obsessions concern situations where there is some degree of uncertainty (what if “X” happens and I didn’t do enough to prevent it?) Compulsive rituals are all about trying to get reassurance and certainty. For example, washing to remove germs, praying to counter blasphemous or sacrilegious thoughts that could result in going to hell, checking for assurances that doors are locked or people are OK, putting things in order (arranging), repeating other behaviors to get rid of a thought (turning a light off and on until a bad thought goes away). Also common are mental rituals that take place purely in the person’s mind.

Steven J. Brodsky, PsyD (OCDHotline.com)

There are thousands of forms of OCD, as unique as each individual. They are not limited to the ones you see on TV with themes of checking, germaphobic cleaning, ordering, perfectionism, hoarding, and hypochondriasis, etc. They can also involve body dysmorphic disorder, scrupulosity, religious OCD, relationship OCD (ROCD) in which people wonder if they love their partner or vice versa, HOCD (homosexuality OCD) in which the sufferer doubts his or her sexual orientation. OCD can even take a nonsense form, with unanswerable metaphysical questions, a song that sticks in your mind, thinking about one’s swallowing or blinking, etc.

Charles H. Elliott, PhD, and Laura L. Smith, PhD (psychology4people.com)

Common obsessions include fears about contamination, worries about having left appliances on or doors unlocked, fear of acting in shameful or humiliating ways, discomfort about things being out of order, extreme concerns about superstitions such as unlucky numbers or colors, and excessive worries about keeping objects of all kinds. Common compulsions include excessive cleaning and hand washing; repeatedly checking doors, locks, appliances, and such; rituals designed to ward off contact with superstitious objects; using prayers or chants to prevent bad things from happening; arranging and rearranging objects; and hoarding huge numbers of ordinary objects.

Kenneth Schwarz, PhD (DutchessPsychology.com)

Some common obsessions have to do with becoming contaminated, being or becoming too aggressive, having persistent sexual thoughts, being susceptible to injury or disease. There is also religious scrupulosity, where a person has unwanted, blasphemous thoughts that she must work hard to keep under control, and out of her mind, so she doesn’t just blurt them out – which is what makes her so anxious. The common element in all these obsessions are persistent, unwanted thoughts that cause a person considerable anxiety. Common compulsions used to get rid of these obsessions come under the headings of checking, cleaning, decontamination rituals, counting, and putting or keeping things in a certain order.

Charlotte M. Scott (custommovesolutions.com)

Common obsessions and compulsions that many are familiar with include the fear of germs and sickness, constant hand washing, using bleach wipes to handle everyday objects that other people have touched, and an overwhelming compulsion to clean and possibly hoard. A person may be filled with anxiety walking across a soccer field and seeing orange peels, candy wrappers, or empty water bottles and desperately wants to rid the field of the trash and clutter, yet the stronger obsession of not touching the items because of germs and bacteria creates the need to control others to pick up the items. Many people with OCD become hoarders triggered by the death of a loved one and the feeling that they must keep everything to protect the memories.

Barbara Tako (clutterclearingchoices.com)

Someone with OCD might be afraid to throw anything away and have strong emotional attachments to many things they own. On the other end of the scale, someone with OCD might turn down a coffee date or other social activity to stick with their cleaning schedule.

Allen H. Weg, EdD (stressandanxiety.com)

The most common obsessions are worries that something is “contaminated” which results in excessive avoidance or excessive washing. Another common compulsion is checking behavior, which results when a person’s obsession makes him not feel sure about something (e.g., “Is it locked?” “Is it turned off?” “Did I leave that thing behind?”) Other obsessions may have to do with sexual identity (“Am I gay?”) which results in attempts to seek reassurance that one is not gay. Also, fear of loss of impulse control, or a sense that one will act out and do something “crazy,” resulting in obsessions such as “maybe I will grab a knife and kill someone before I realize what I am doing,” or ” maybe I will just fling my body off of a high place and kill myself.” These obsessions result in people avoiding sharp objects or knives, or places of perceived danger, such as the kitchen, or high places. Besides Checkers, Hoarders, and Aggressive OCD, as depicted above, there is also ordering OCD, counting OCD, symmetry OCD, and hoarding OCD (though research has of late been demonstrating that this last form may be a different disorder altogether).

Can Vitamin D Help Treat Depression?

Some research shows that taking a vitamin D supplement can help with depression or depressive symptoms Here’s what you need to know about how to find …

By Lorie A. Parch

Is Your Summer Burning You Out? 5 Tips for Coping

Do you find your summer schedule overwhelming? Here’s how to take back control and actually enjoy the warm weather months.

By Jessica Migala

Can Turmeric Help People Living With Schizophrenia?

Turmeric and its main ingredient, curcumin, are starting to be investigated as possible adjunctive treatments for schizophrenia, among other mental health. ..

By Stacey Colino

What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)? Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

People who have obsessive-compulsive disorder have recurring obsessions that can lead to compulsions, such as repetitive behaviors or rituals.

By Joseph Bennington-Castro

7 Celebrities With Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Camila Cabello, Howie Mandel, and Megan Fox have all spoken openly about having obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

By Michelle Pugle

When It’s Not Just OCD

Obsessive compulsive disorder is often associated with other conditions. Find out what they are.

By Nancie George

At What Age Does OCD Usually Begin?

OCD is a two-part anxiety disorder: obsessions are unwanted persistent thoughts; the compulsions are actions people take to reduce their obsessions.


Understanding the Two Parts of OCD

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) involves persistent, unwanted obsessions and compulsions.

With OCD, obsessive thoughts usually trigger compulsive actions meant to help dispel the thoughts and reduce distress. But this usually only provides short-term relief and doesn’t make the obsession go away.

Obsessions and compulsions can become a cycle that’s difficult to stop. The time you spend on compulsions might begin to take up so much of your day that you find it hard to get anything else done. This can affect your school, work, or personal life, leading to even more distress.

Read on to find out more about obsessions and compulsions, including examples of how they might occur together for someone and when it might help to talk to a mental health professional.

Obsessive thoughts can interrupt your daily life, upsetting you and making it hard to do things you want to do. Even if you’re aware they aren’t real and know you won’t act on them, you may still feel distressed and worry you could act on them. As a result, you might try to avoid everything that triggers these thoughts.

There are several types of obsessions, and it’s common to experience more than one type. Symptoms generally depend on the type.

Here’s a look at some common themes.

Obsessions related to contamination

These obsessions involve thoughts and worries about things that could make you dirty or sick, such as:

  • mud and dirt
  • bodily fluids
  • radiation, pollution, or other environmental hazards
  • germs and illness
  • poisonous household items (cleaning products, insect spray, and so on)

Obsessions about taboo behaviors

These obsessions might come up as images or urges. They can be extremely upsetting, because you know you really don’t want to act on them. They could involve:

  • sexually explicit thoughts about family members, children, or any aggressive or harmful sexual activity
  • unwanted thoughts about sexual behaviors you don’t have interest in
  • worry about acting violently toward others
  • fear of acting in a blasphemous way or worries you’ve offended God (scrupulosity)
  • fears that ordinary behaviors are wrong or immoral

It’s important to keep in mind that having these kinds of obsessive thoughts doesn’t mean you’re going act on them. Part of what makes them so distressing is that you don’t want to act on them.

Obsessions about losing control or acting on your impulses

It’s not uncommon to worry you’ll act on impulses or intrusive thoughts. For example, you might worry about:

  • hurting yourself or someone else
  • stealing something or breaking other laws
  • having an outburst of aggressive, rude, or obscene language
  • acting on unwanted images or intrusive thoughts

Again, having these obsessions doesn’t mean you’ll act on them.

Obsessions about causing accidental harm

With this type of obsession, you might worry you’ll cause an accident or disaster. Some examples include:

  • poisoning someone by using the wrong ingredient or accidentally including a toxic substance when cooking
  • accidentally hitting a person or animal when driving
  • unintentionally leaving the stove on or an appliance plugged in and causing a fire
  • forgetting to lock your home or office, which could be burglarized as a result

Obsessions about needing things to be orderly or perfect

This type of obsession goes beyond perfectionist traits. Instead of getting a sense of satisfaction from things that are tidy or symmetrical, you may feel extremely upset when something is slightly askew and need to make adjustments until it feels “just right.”

Other symptoms include:

  • fearing you’ll forget, or have forgotten, something important
  • needing objects or furniture to face a specific direction or be in a specific order
  • needing objects (foods, items around your house, etc.) to be even or symmetrical
  • worrying about throwing things away in case they’re important or you need them later

Language matters

In casual conversation, people often use the term “obsession” to refer to something they really, really like. But in the context of OCD and related conditions, obsessions are anything but enjoyable.

Saying things like, “I’m obsessed with crime documentaries,” or talking about a football “obsession” can minimize the experience of people living with OCD and related conditions and contribute to confusion about what these conditions really involve.

Was this helpful?

Compulsions refer to mental or physical responses or behaviors to obsessions. You may feel the need to repeat these behaviors over and over even though you don’t actually want to be doing them. This can take up hours of your day.

Carrying out these compulsions brings about a sense of relief from an obsession, but this feeling is usually short-lived.

Sometimes compulsions are related and relevant to an obsession. For example, you might check, unlock, and relock your front door seven times before leaving to prevent a break-in.

But in other cases, they might be totally unrelated. For example, you might tap a specific area of a wall before leaving the house because you feel it helps to prevent getting in a car accident on your way to work.

Like obsessions, compulsions often fit into a few major categories.

Checking compulsions

Compulsions related to checking might involve:

  • making sure you didn’t or can’t hurt anyone — for example, by hiding knives or retracing driving routes
  • making sure you didn’t hurt yourself
  • going over your work again and again to be sure you didn’t make a mistake
  • making sure appliances are turned off
  • making sure doors and windows are locked
  • checking your body to make sure you don’t have physical symptoms

Mental compulsions

Mental or thought rituals often include:

  • praying
  • counting to a specific number
  • repeating words or numbers in a specific pattern or for a set number of times
  • numbering or making lists about tasks or actions
  • reviewing or going over events or conversations that have happened
  • mentally undoing or cancelling out a negative word or image by replacing it with a positive one

Cleaning compulsions

These compulsions might involve cleaning parts of your environment or your body, such as:

  • washing your hands multiple times
  • avoiding touching specific objects or people to prevent contamination
  • needing to follow a specific washing ritual
  • following specific hygiene rituals that most people would consider excessive
  • cleaning your house, work environment, or other areas repeatedly or a specific number of times

Repeating or arranging compulsions

These compulsions might involve doing things a certain number of times or until something looks or feels “just right. ” For example:

  • doing something a specific number of times
  • touching parts of your body multiple times or in a specific order
  • tapping or touching things when you enter and leave a room
  • turning all of a certain object in the same direction
  • arranging things in a specific pattern
  • making body movements, like blinking, a certain number of times

Other compulsions could include:

  • seeking reassurance from friends, family members, or religious figures
  • feeling driven to confess certain actions over and over
  • avoiding triggers or any situation likely to lead to a compulsion

In general, most people with OCD experience an obsessive thought, and then feel compelled to perform an action (compulsion) to help relieve the anxiety or stress associated with the obsession.

The obsession and compulsion may have some relation to each other, but this isn’t always the case.

Here are some examples of how obsessions and compulsions might look in real life. Just keep in mind that people experience OCD and other mental health conditions in different ways. Though not comprehensive, this table is meant to help you better understand the differences between obsessions and compulsions, as well as how they relate to each other.

“I know I’m straight. I’m attracted to women. I have a girlfriend. But what if I am attracted to men too?”Searching the internet for photos of “attractive men” and looking through pages of photos to see if they cause arousal.
“What if the baby stops breathing in the night?”Setting an alarm to go off every 30 minutes through the night to check on the baby.
Having an intrusive thought of taking off clothes in the middle of a work meeting.Spelling “quiet” backward mentally each time the thought comes up until it goes away.
“This office is contaminated. If I touch anything, I’ll get sick.”Washing hands three times, for a minute each time, whenever you touch or think you’ve touched something.
“What if I forget something important?”Needing to save every piece of mail, notification, or document, even when they’re out-of-date and no longer have a use.
“Dad will have an accident at work if I don’t tap each foot against the back of each leg 12 times.”Tapping your foot against your leg for the set number of times, and starting from the beginning if you make a mistake.
“What if I jerk the wheel while I’m driving and intentionally hit another car?”Slapping your head seven times on each side to dispel the thought each time it pops up, and repeating the ritual to be sure the thought doesn’t come back.
“What if I accidentally touch someone inappropriately?”Making sure to walk or stay out of arm’s reach of any other person, immediately moving away when you get too close, and frequently asking, “Was that too close? Was that inappropriate?”
“If I forget to confess one of my sins, God will be angry at me.Drafting long lists of all potentially “wrong” or sinful behaviors and making a new confession or praying each time you remember a new one.
“If I look at the clock when it changes from 11:59 to 12:00, the world will end.”Turning all clocks around, avoiding looking at any clock or phone close to the time, and checking multiple times to make sure the clocks are turned around or hidden, just in case.
“If I don’t step on every third crack, my boyfriend will lose his job.”Stepping on every third crack, and going back and doing it again just to be certain.
Having an intrusive thought of needing to say a specific word.Saying the word to everyone you see, even after trying to fight the urge to do so.
Having an intrusive thought of putting your finger into an electric socket.Covering all outlets with plastic covers and checking each one three times every time the thought comes up.
“What if I have a tumor?”Visually and physically checking your entire body for lumps multiple times a day to make sure none have appeared.

While we typically think of obsessions and compulsions in the context of OCD, there’s a lesser-known variation of OCD that some refer to as “pure O.” The name comes from the idea that it involves only obsessions.

Experts believe this type generally still involves compulsive rituals, just that these rituals look different from typical compulsive behaviors.

Pure O commonly involves intrusive thoughts and images of:

  • hurting yourself or other people
  • sexual acts, particularly those you consider wrong, immoral, or harmful to others
  • blasphemous or religious thoughts
  • unwanted or unpleasant thoughts about romantic partners and other people

You might worry about acting on these thoughts or spend a lot of time worrying they make you a bad person. These thoughts can actually be part of a compulsion. They just aren’t as visible and concrete as the compulsions people usually think of.

It’s also common to spend a lot of time tracing thoughts to understand them and reassure yourself you won’t act on them. You might also pray or repeat specific phrases to cancel out an image or thought.

While the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders acknowledges that people can have obsessions without compulsions and vice versa, pure O isn’t recognized as a formal diagnosis.

Anyone can experience brief mental fixations, obsessive and intrusive thoughts, or unexplainable urges to carry out a specific task or action. In general, obsessions and compulsions only indicate OCD when they:

  • take up a significant part of your day
  • are unwanted
  • negatively affect your personal life and relationships

Feeling a need to clean a lot because you enjoy cleaning and like the look of a tidy house wouldn’t be a sign of OCD, since you take pleasure in the activity and pride in the result.

What could indicate OCD, for example, is fearing your child might develop a serious illness if you don’t have a completely clean and germ-free house. As a result of this persistent worry, you clean several hours each day but still worry you missed something and feel distressed until you start cleaning again.

If you have any OCD symptoms, talking to a mental health professional can help. A therapist can help you identify obsessions and compulsions and begin addressing them to reduce the impact they have on your life.

its signs that it is in Orthodoxy, a sinful passion for a person, the power of demons and demons, how to distinguish from mental illness and free yourself

Thank you for visiting our site, before you start reading, you can subscribe to an interesting Orthodox mail newsletter, for this you need to click on this link “Subscribe”


What is possession: definition

Healing of the demon-possessed Gadara by Christ

In the broadest sense of the word, possession is the possession of the spirit and souls of a person by some external extraneous forces. For example, the soul of a person can be possessed by an obsessive idea or ideas (“fixed idea”), and he will stubbornly and purposefully act in the spirit of these ideas, regardless of their correctness or falsity.

Obsession with passion and its symptoms

Obsession can also be called passion, this is when a person is extremely passionate about something. This something can be something good in itself, for example, a job, especially a creative one. But even an extremely passionate attitude towards it, as a rule, is not useful and even harmful. Since it often undermines the spiritual, mental and physical health of such an obsessed with this passion.

This is interesting: What is passion in the Orthodox sense

Obsession with another person

It happens that a man and a woman are obsessed with love for each other. This also cannot be welcomed, since it often pushes such people to unreasonable, and sometimes criminal acts. As an example, I once had to cite the story of a Japanese man (the son of a local billionaire) who, while studying in Holland, fell in love with a local girl. Possessed by this love and therefore wanting to be with her forever, he killed her, dismembered her body and gradually ate it so that she would always be with him. This is what obsession leads to even in love!

It is even more terrible when it is the result of the action of sinful passions.

How sinful possession appears

All three basic passions can be its main cause: voluptuousness, and love of money, and love of glory. The latter causes envy when we see that someone is more famous than we are. And if this envy, having taken an excessive force over the soul captivated by it, turns it into an obsession, then it can be the cause of the most terrible sins, including murder.

Examples of Possession in Holy Scripture

Julius Schnorr von Karolsfeld. “And while they were in the field, Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him” (Gen. 4:8)

The most striking example of what has just been said is Cain’s envy of his brother Abel. As you know, Cain was the first to offer sacrifice to God. But Abel brought it from the firstfruits of his labors, so his sacrifice was more pleasing to God than that of Cain. And the Lord accepted the offering of Abel, which caused extraordinary envy in Cain. And despite the fact that the Lord Himself warned him against the sin of fratricide, he nevertheless committed this first monstrous lawlessness on earth (Gen. 4: 3-8)!

Read also: Biblical story of Cain and Abel

And an example of the obsession with the love of money is that evangelical rich man, whose “cornfield is comfortable”, i.e. there was a very good harvest. And instead of sharing this blessing given to him by God, share it with his neighbors, many of whom were starving:

“He reasoned with himself: what should I do? where can I gather my fruits? And he said, This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and I will gather there all my bread and all my goods, and I will say to my soul: soul! much good lies with you for many years: rest, eat, drink, be merry. But God said to him: crazy! this very night your soul will be taken from you; Who will get what you have prepared? This is what happens to those who lay up treasures for themselves, and do not grow rich towards God” (Luke 12:17-21).

As you can see, this rich man was so obsessed with a passion for money and possessions that he considered himself practically “immortal.” Therefore, he collected countless food to feed himself, his most beloved and “immortal”!

The famous Rockefeller was the earthly analogue of such a rich man. To whom six hearts were transplanted, thanks to which he lived to be a hundred years old. When he was congratulated on this, he declared that he wanted to live up to two hundred years. But he died two or three years later. However, if this false “immortal” had lived to be two hundred, he would have wanted to live to be three hundred, five hundred, a thousand, and so on. This is what the obsession with wealth leads to – to complete madness!

The most outstanding example of obsession with voluptuousness, or, more precisely, with fornication, can, however, be taken not from Holy Scripture, but from Holy Tradition. We are talking about the life of Mary of Egypt before her repentance and departure into the wilderness. Before that, she was so obsessed with passion or the demon of fornication that she did not even take money for her love services, because she believed that she would have more lovers that way. As you can see, here prodigal passion eclipsed and surpassed even the love of money!

Demon Possession: How the Christian Church Explains This Phenomenon

However, here we already see not only obsession from passion, but also from the demon who oversees this passion. To the extent that a person exercises in this or that passion, which the demon squats, the more this demon takes possession of his soul. Finally, he can almost completely master it, and then the person becomes demon-possessed.

There may be other causes of possession. They can punish a Christian for some of his very grave sins. A person himself, of his own free will, may turn out to be demon-possessed if he wants to conclude some kind of agreement with the devil. Finally, possession can be one of the most difficult, perhaps the most difficult, Christian feats.

So, for example, it was with the servant of the Monk Seraphim of Sarov N.A. Motovilov, who was possessed by a demon for more than thirty years. Moreover, for the first few days he experienced real hellish torments. But he was given to endure these torments and possessions so that after death his soul, as a reward for patience, would enter those highest places in the Kingdom of Heaven, where the soul of St. Seraphim also dwelt.

There are many examples of such demon possession in the Holy Scriptures. The most famous and especially revealing is the gospel story about the Gadarene demoniacs:

“When He arrived on the other side in the country of the Gergeses, He was met by two demoniacs who came out of the tombs, very fierce, so that no one dared to pass that way. And behold, they cried out: What have you to do with us, Jesus, the Son of God? You came here before the time to torment us. Far away from them, a large herd of pigs grazed. And the demons asked Him: if you cast us out, then send us into a herd of pigs. And He said to them, go. And they went out and went into the herd of swine. And behold, the whole herd of pigs threw themselves from the steep into the sea and perished in the water ”(Matthew 8: 28-32).

The condition of these demoniacs was very deplorable: due to the action of demons, they did not wear clothes, but were naked; they lived not in houses, but in tombs (cf. Luke 8:27). However, the demons provided them with extraordinary physical strength, so that they even broke the iron chains with which they were trying to bind (cf. Luke 8:29). Therefore, no one could pass that place. For the possessed, possessing such power, rushed at people, crippling them, and possibly even killing them.

But despite the fact that these demoniacs had a whole legion of demons (Luke 8:30), the Lord expelled all of them from these unfortunate ones by His one word (Matt. 8:32). For He is also the Lord of the underworld, therefore the demons unquestioningly obey Him.

In addition, from this gospel story we clearly see that not only people, but also animals can be demon-possessed. In this case, these are pigs into which demons have entered. And, as we see, these animals, having become demon-possessed, under the influence of the demonic power, lost the natural instinct of self-preservation, rushed into the sea, where they all drowned (Matthew 8: 32)!

Possession in psychiatry

In it it is called “Obsessive-compulsive disorder” (from Latin obsessio – “siege”, “interception”, Latin obsessio – “obsession with an idea” and Latin compello – “I force”, Latin compulsio – “coercion”) ( OCD, obsessive-compulsive disorder) is a mental disorder that manifests itself in involuntarily arising obsessive, disturbing or frightening thoughts – obsessions, as well as in the fact that a person constantly and unsuccessfully tries to get rid of the anxiety caused by these thoughts with the help of equally obsessive and tiring actions – compulsions . Sometimes obsessive (mainly obsessive thoughts) and separately compulsive (mainly obsessive actions) disorders are distinguished separately.

May be chronic, progressive or episodic. In the course of an abnormal change in higher nervous activity, obsessive thoughts and obsessions take root. They are uncontrollable, he cannot get rid of them by willpower. They are usually extremely painful. To alleviate anxiety, a general condition, a ritual or even a system of bizarre, strange rituals called compulsions is created. Unlike those with schizophrenia, individuals with OCD are fully aware of the painfulness of their experiences, the condition depresses them.

“Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by the development of obsessive thoughts, memories, fantasies, movements and actions, as well as a variety of pathological fears (phobias).”

How to Distinguish Possession with Unclean Spirits from Mental Illness

It is easy to see that these rational-scientific calculations are quite suitable for the actions of demons. Who, being fallen angels, have not lost the properties of their much sharper than human mind, as well as those knowledge of nature (in particular, knowledge of the human psyche) that such a sharp mind gives them.

Therefore, they know better than the best psychiatrists how to cause such, in the language of psychiatry, “obsessive-compulsive disorders” in a person. Which in church language will be called ordinary possession.

Therefore, the line between the one and the other: possession and mental illness is quite thin. It is often difficult to separate them from each other, because the same thing in science (psychiatry) is called a disease, and in the Church – demon possession.

However, above were the reasons why a demon can inhabit a person. If these reasons took place, then, obviously, it is not a disease that takes place, but demonic possession. If they were not, then perhaps it’s just a disease.

How to Help a Possessed Person

If it is a question of mental illness or possession, then, firstly, he should simply be helped. This means that relatives will have to take care of him, because. he cannot work and support himself.

In such a case, to help such one, one must resort to both church and medical means. The latter, as a rule, not so much help to cure the patient as help his relatives to cohabit with him.

Those medicines that medicine offers mainly stop the patient from bouts of anger and uncontrollable aggressiveness, turning him, as they say, into a “vegetable”. But still, it is easier for both medical workers and his relatives to cope with this when he is not in the hospital, but at home. If you refuse these drugs, then the life of all the unfortunate households of this even more unfortunate person will turn into a real hell! So you have to choose the lesser of two evils.

Church means are, if possible, a more private confession and communion of such a possessed. But this is possible only if he himself agrees to this. If his consent is not there, then relatives can only endure and pray for him, both for the sick and for the possessed.

But in general, this, of course, is a terrible grief for the relatives and friends of such a person. This is worse than his physical death. Indeed, he seems to have died, but at the same time he lives and requires the care of others, often already elderly parents and relatives. Which themselves have long been in need of care for themselves!

But Orthodox Christians must patiently endure such a feat of service to their loved ones. What will the Lord reward them for? We have seen the example of N.A. Motovilov, who courageously withstood more than thirty years of carrying out such a much more difficult feat, since he himself was possessed by a demon. But he received the highest award in the Kingdom of Heaven, being there together with his beloved elder – the Monk Seraphim of Sarov! So we will be rewarded in heaven for such a feat of service to loved ones, the mentally ill or possessed.

What is a report

This is the liturgical rite of casting out a demon from a person. It is usually read in monasteries. White clergy, although they can also reprimand, rarely take up this matter. For the demon is an extremely vicious and vindictive creature. And even if he really succeeds in expelling him, then he will harm the priest and his family in every possible way.

For a monk who is a pure warrior of Christ, such invisible warfare with demons is more familiar; and he can lead it more conveniently, without being bound by “worldly purchases” (cf. 2 Tim. 2:4).

However, if in ancient times it was a common thing, and the lowest ranks of the church clergy were entrusted with casting out demons, now everything is much more complicated. For almost two thousand years of Christianity, demons have become very adept at tempting us sinners, so it is not so easy to expel them from a demon-possessed person. And if we take into account that now the vessels of the Holy Spirit have also become impoverished, then this case is generally very rare.

On the other hand, there are quite a lot of those who, because of human fame or money, pretend to be exorcists who “cast out demons. ” Sometimes whole demonstrations are organized for this, when certain individuals depicting demoniacs, and, possibly, really possessed, at first terribly scream in wild voices. But after the spells of the clergyman, they begin to picturesquely declare: “I’m leaving, I’m leaving …”.

But they are in a slow hurry to leave. Because if we come to the next such demonstration, we will again see the same imaginary or real possessed, and they will again shout: “I’m leaving, I’m leaving …”. Therefore, it is better not to go to such dubious priests for a reprimand! It probably won’t help, but it can hurt even more.

You need to look for real shepherds, really capable of exorcising evil spirits. But this is quite difficult, since scammers and rogues advertise themselves in every possible way, and real shepherds, as a rule, are unknown!

How to fight if you feel that you are possessed by a sinful passion?

This is no longer a matter of reprimand, but of the ascetic struggle of an Orthodox Christian with his passions. All the ascetic creations of the holy fathers are precisely, predominantly, an explanation of how to fight one or another passion.

The most classic and complete in this regard is the “Ladder” of St. John of the Ladder. But this saint himself, at the beginning of this creation, gives very useful advice: look at the rank in which you are and to which you are called.

After all, The Ladder was written by a monk and for monks. If we live in the world, then for us, for example, it is much more useful than a purely ascetic battle with, say, the passion of fornication, a battle that we most likely will not be able to bear – therefore, for us (especially young people) it is much more useful to simply join into a Christian marriage. One of the main tasks of which is precisely the protection of spouses from fornication.

Or, for example, monastic instructions on non-possession. A layman should approach this commandment with reason, which in its limit means not having money at all. Yes, there were such ancient monasteries in which some became novices and then monks from childhood. Having taken a vow of non-possession, they did not know what money was at all. Therefore, for example, they could not even distinguish a gold coin from a silver or copper one.

Of course, for a family man living in the world, it is necessary to approach this commandment, as has already been said, with reason. He should work honestly for his own food and for his family. At the same time, if possible, from your honestly earned funds, you should give all possible alms to the poor. Then the commandment of non-acquisitiveness will also be observed for such a person.

It is also precisely necessary to conform the other ascetic instructions of the Holy Fathers concerning the struggle with this or that sinful passion, it is necessary to conform them to the position in which we find ourselves. Because not only Ladder, but the vast majority of saints were monks and wrote for monks.

But here are some tips from the Holy Fathers that are useful for everyone:

Advice of the Holy Fathers

Venerable Macarius of Egypt

“With what passion a man does not fight courageously, does not oppose it by all means and delights in it, it attracts him and holds him, as it were, with some kind of bonds”

Saint Gregory of Nyssa

“Passion would not have access to our life if we recognized the good from the very beginning”

Saint John Chrysostom

“It is a great thing to overcome your own passions, but it is much more important to convince others to accept the same way of thinking”

“Rise up against tyranny, pride; rise up against the attacks of anger, against the pangs of lust; and these are wounds, and this is torment”

Rev. Isidore Pelusiot

“Violent and frenzied carnal passions must be tamed, made obedient and humble; and if they do not obey, then punish them as much as possible”

Saint Theophan the Recluse

“There is a sign that passion has been torn out of the heart – when the heart begins to harbor disgust and hatred for passion”

Related Articles

We would like to draw your attention to the problem of destroyed temples that suffered in godless years. More than 4,000 ancient churches across Russia are waiting for restoration, many are in critical condition, but they can still be saved.

One of these churches is located in the city of Kalach, it is the Church of the Assumption of the Mother of God of the 18th century. By the efforts of caring people, the temple began to be restored, but there is a catastrophic lack of funds for all the work, since construction and restoration work is very expensive. Therefore, we invite everyone to participate in the good work of restoring the temple in honor of the Most Holy Theotokos. You can do this on the temple website

Help the temple

Recommended articles on the topic

Demon possession: how to recognize? | Pravmir

Obsession – what is it? Does such a concept exist in Orthodoxy? How to help the obsessed?

Contents of the article

  • Possession by evil spirits, symptoms of possession
    • How to know that a person is possessed?
  • Demon possession or mental illness?
    • Reporting in Orthodoxy
    • Reprimands in Protestantism
  • How to prevent a demon from moving in
    • Is it possible to buy a reprimand?
  • Possession in the Bible
  • Help for the Possessed
    • Childish Fantasies or Obsession?
    • Read also about possession in Pravmir:
    • Video about possession:

Obsession with evil spirits, symptoms of possession

What is possession?

This term hides many conditions. One of them is when a person is under the strong influence of evil forces, spirits, the devil. Other is a term used in psychiatry. People can talk about obsession in a positive way – “he is obsessed with the idea of ​​​​helping people.” Yet obsession involves an unhealthy infatuation or those moments when a person cannot control himself. The possessed need help and sometimes the participation of the Church. Whether we are talking about a mental illness or a spiritual condition, Orthodox Christians believe that the Almighty God is able to help a person who is struggling with possession.

The Bible also gives us references to the fact that some people can be possessed by evil spirits. Therefore, Christians do not have to doubt the reality of the existence of possession.

In the Acts of the Apostles (19:13-16) there is this story: “Even some of the wandering Jewish exorcists began to use the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying: We conjure you by Jesus, whom Paul preaches. This was done by some seven sons of the Jewish high priest Skeva. But the evil spirit answered and said: I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you? – and a man in whom there was an evil spirit rushed at them, and, having overcome them, took such power over them that they ran naked and beaten out of that house. Before Jesus Christ the demons trembled, and in His earthly life there were also episodes of the healing of the possessed.

How do you know if a person is possessed?

There are no specific “symptoms” or signs of possession. In the Bible, references to possession refer rather to episodes when a person was overwhelmed by sinful thoughts that he could not cope with. We also often use this word in speech, talking about the fact that a person is “obsessed with jealousy” or “obsessed with malice.”

If we talk about the mention of such conditions in the Scriptures, we usually talked about the likeness of an epileptic seizure, loss of the gift of speech or unusual behavior, blasphemy of the saints. But if the Bible is an inspired text, then other reports of possession should be taken with a grain of salt. Few people know that the state of “possession” is also mentioned in psychiatry. Possession even has an ICD code. The fact that obsession was more common in the literature and testimonies of antiquity, by the way, suggests that psychiatry, as a science in medicine, then practically did not exist or was rather punitive than aimed at helping people. During the Inquisition, many suffered due to the fact that mentally ill people were considered possessed.

Read also – Reprimand of the possessed?

Demon possession or mental illness?

How to distinguish obsession from mental illness? Maybe the person is not possessed? Why do “reprimands” and exorcism sessions help if possession is a consequence of a mental disorder?

Item F44.3 “Trance and Possession” describes what many might think of as demon possession. However, in many cases it is a severe mental disorder that requires the help of a psychiatrist. Of course, turning to the Church and healing through the prayers of the Lord happens, but a person cannot take responsibility and deprive a loved one of qualified help if, in his opinion, a person is possessed. In case you suspect someone is possessed, take them to a psychiatrist. Doctors used to call obsession “kakodenomania”. People suffering from this disorder often, in fact, suffered from schizophrenia. Because of their split personality, they believed that one of their personalities was a demon. People with narcissistic tendencies often suffer from such disorders.

People have been known to fake possession to get attention. They also needed psychiatric help. Now the delusions of possession are not common, because in society it is not customary, as in the Middle Ages, to write off any condition in which a person has a personality disorder as possession.

In the case when a person with the disease “obsession” was helped in the Church, doctors spoke more than once about the “placebo effect” and self-hypnosis.

Reports in Orthodoxy

The Orthodox Church generally does not perform special rites for those suffering from possession. This is possible with special permission from the ruling bishop. In turn, in the Catholic Church there is a rite of exorcism. There are many films and literature about this.

In Orthodoxy, “reprimand” is rather a rarity. In the Trinity-Sergius Lavra, Father Herman (Chesnokov) is reprimanding. A report is a special rank that is read to help people for whom evidence-based medicine is powerless. Believers turn to the Lord for help. Reporting does not cost any money, so believers can ask for help. And, nevertheless, first of all it is necessary to exclude mental illnesses. The line between pathology and supernatural intervention is not easy to draw in the case of possession. This should be done by a specialist. If you are afraid that a doctor who does not believe in God may miss the state of possession, then we hasten to console you – many psychiatrists are religious people and at the same time as a doctor you can turn to the Church for spiritual help.

A priest who sees that a person has symptoms of epilepsy, which can be mistaken for possession, first of all refers the person to an epileptologist, and not to a reprimand.

Reprimands in Protestantism

Interestingly, traditional Protestants (Lutherans) do not conduct any rituals for people suffering from possession. A righteous life and prayers are the means that Protestants offer to those possessed by evil forces.

In Christianity, a unified attitude towards possession has not been formed, since many of those who allegedly suffered from it, in fact, were victims of mental illness, pretended to get fame. Some also believe that the Lord allows possession is not accidental. When people see unusual and supernatural things done through evil, they may think about turning to God and about the fact that not only the body, but also the soul is real. The physical and mental state of a person can directly depend on what kind of life he leads.

Unfortunately, numerous examples show that a righteous life is not a guarantee of both mental and physical health. But, Christians should not build their lives in anticipation of rewards on earth. Jesus Christ conquered the world, so we are looking for rewards in Heaven.

How to prevent a demon from possessing

Are there specific recommendations on what to do to prevent a demon from possessing? Is it possible that possession is the result of an unrighteous life? Does Communion help with obsession?

There are no recommendations and algorithms, following which you can know for sure that the demon will not inhabit a person. The Church allows and conducts the consecration of a dwelling, a means of transportation, but the Christian faith does not imply rituals or ceremonies that reliably protect against possession. This is nothing more than superstition. Particular care should be taken with offers to save from possession on a commercial basis. Numerous priests offering amulets and charms from the evil eye or evil spirits have nothing to do with the Church. God has given us his grace for free.

Is it possible to buy a report?

In the Trinity-Sergius Lavra, pilgrims are always grateful for a feasible donation, but the “reprimand” has no definite value and there are no ranks that cast out demons from a person for money.

According to the teachings of the Fathers of the Church, it is difficult for an evil spirit to enter where the Holy Spirit dwells. People became open to evil when their souls were possessed by sin and evil thoughts. So Judas betrayed Christ, possessed by greed. Of course, there are no sinless people, but we must try so that sin does not take possession of the soul of a person, does not crowd out the presence of the Divine principle in a person. After all, we were created in the image and likeness of the Heavenly Father.

If a Christian lives a church life, confesses and takes Communion, sincerely wants to live according to the Testament of Christ, he should not be afraid that he will suffer from obsession. You should not pay attention to stupid superstitions that indicate the possibility of the evil eye, warn against contact with black cats and women who carry empty buckets. Evil spirits are powerless before Christ, which is directly indicated by His victory over death and hell.

Possession in the Bible

Was demon possession mentioned in the Bible? Does the Bible directly say that possession really exists and what danger it poses? Should believers be afraid of being possessed, and are evil spirits capable of inspiring their will to an entire nation?

There are mentions in the Bible that evil forces are looking for victims. The Apostle Paul says “your adversary the devil walks like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour”, while we know that God is stronger than the devil and Jesus healed the possessed.

In the book of Job, the devil really harmed a person, but by permission from the Lord. Everything the Lord does, He does for the good of man.

V Dan. 10:13 we also see evidence that possession can extend not only to one person, but to an entire nation. Many believe that the history of Nazism in Germany can serve as such an example.

Descriptions of possession can be found in several places of Scripture at once: (Matt. 4:24; 8:16, 28, 33; 9:32; 12:22; 15:22; Mark 1:32; 5:15-16 18; John 10:21)

Help for the possessed

What should we do if we think that a person is possessed? Call an ambulance for psychiatric help, pray, turn to exorcists from other faiths, or look for elders who give reprimands?

If you think that a loved one has signs of possession, first of all take him to the doctor. Sometimes people begin to behave atypically or aggressively due to mental illness or organic brain damage. This does not negate the opportunity to ask for prayerful and spiritual help in the Church, since the Lord heals a person from any ailments, if this is exactly what is required for the salvation of the soul. Check with your confessor or a priest you trust.

Childhood fantasy or obsession?

Read also – If your child sees angels

Particular attention should be paid to the condition of young children. It is easy to confuse their fantasies with both mental illness and possession, having false ideas about this concept. If a child says that he sees angels or is afraid of nightmares, it is better to show him to a child psychiatrist and think about working with a psychologist in the future.

It is a false statement that babies cry “because they are not baptized”, “they have a dashing eye on them”, etc. The Sacrament of Baptism is a promise to follow Christ. Neither Baptism nor Communion are “remedies for obsession”, while, undoubtedly, the Lord protects and does not allow the forces of evil to harm the soul of a person who sincerely believes in God and tries to lead a worthy and righteous life.

The main thing is not to feel superstitious fear before obsession and people who suffer from it. Fiction films about obsession are terrifying, but they are often just fiction. Despite the fact that many are based on real events. Perhaps they just need qualified help, a prayer for their health, an appeal to God with a request to heal them from a serious illness. Nothing is impossible for the Lord.

Read also about the possession on Pravmir:

  • It’s time to see a psychiatrist: voices are allowed (+ video)
  • About kindness and obsession
  • Casting out demons

Possession video:

Since you are here…

We have a small request. This story was told thanks to the support of readers. Even the smallest monthly donation helps editorial work and create important content for people.