Johns Hopkins Psychiatry Guide

Obsessions

Paul Nestadt, M.D., Gerald Nestadt, M.D.
Obsessions is a topic covered in the Johns Hopkins Psychiatry Guide.

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DEFINITION

An obsession is an unbidden, intrusive thought, image, or urge that intrudes into consciousness; attempts to dispel it are difficult and typically lead to anxiety. These thoughts, images, or urges are recognized as part of one’s own mental life. To varying degrees they are judged by the patient to be irrational.

An obsession can involve diverse subjects, often including:

  • Aggressive thoughts
  • Sexual thoughts
  • Religious thoughts
  • Contamination concerns
  • Need for symmetry
  • Need to know or remember

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Last updated: December 9, 2014