A habit is something that you do without even thinking about it. It is done without any anxiety, and it is not related to any obsessions. A ritual, in contrast, is performed in order to neutralize an obsession. Often, the person performing the ritual would like to not do the ritual, but he or she feels compelled to do it in order to feel relief from the obsessive thought, impulse, or image. You may know someone who spends a great deal of time making sure that his or her tires are “perfectly” straight when parking the car or someone who arranges his or her desktop items at 90 degree angles. They may do this because they would not be able to stop thinking about the items being out of place or the tires being crooked, or it may give them such an uncomfortable feeling that they feel they have to straighten them. Either way, the straightening is done to relieve some type of uncomfortable feeling generated by the obsessive thought. Others with neatness habits may also like to straighten things, but if they were unable to, it would not affect their day, or they would not feel compelled to go back and fix it, as a person with OCD would.
- What does that mean when an OCD ritual is safety seeking behavior?
- If I have an OCD ritual of making sure the doors are locked will it morph into other things?
- Why does my friend with OCD always say that this is the last time she does a ritual?
- What should I do if my partner will not leave the house because he is doing an OCD ritual?
- Where Did the Custom of the Handshake Come From and How Did the Ritual Originate?