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Ordering OCD: Understanding the Chaos

ordering ocd Nov 26, 2023
Ordering OCD

Ordering Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a subtype of OCD that revolves around the intense need for order, symmetry, and precision. Individuals grappling with Ordering OCD experience persistent, intrusive thoughts and engage in ritualistic behaviours to alleviate the distress caused by the perceived disorder. In this blog, we'll delve into the symptoms of Ordering OCD and explore Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) as a promising treatment option.

Symptoms of Ordering OCD

  1. Obsessive Thoughts: Individuals with Ordering OCD often struggle with distressing thoughts related to the arrangement and order of objects or situations. These thoughts may centre around fears of harm or catastrophic consequences if things are not arranged in a specific manner.
  2. Compulsive Behaviours: To neutralize the anxiety triggered by obsessive thoughts, those with Ordering OCD engage in compulsive rituals. These can include repeatedly arranging and rearranging objects, aligning items with precision, and checking and rechecking to ensure everything is in perfect order.
  3. Impact on Daily Life: Ordering OCD can significantly disrupt daily life. Simple tasks such as leaving the house, going to work, or completing assignments may become time-consuming and mentally exhausting due to the compulsive rituals that individuals feel compelled to perform.
  4. Distress and Impairment: The obsessions and compulsions associated with Ordering OCD cause significant distress and impairment in social, occupational, and educational functioning. Relationships may strain as the individual becomes preoccupied with maintaining order at the expense of other important aspects of life.

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) as a Treatment Option

  1. Understanding ERP: ERP is a cognitive-behavioural therapy approach that is particularly effective in treating OCD, including Ordering OCD. The core principle of ERP is to expose individuals to the thoughts, images, and situations that trigger anxiety (exposure) and then prevent the accompanying compulsive rituals (response prevention).
  2. Gradual Exposure: ERP for Ordering OCD involves a gradual and systematic exposure to situations that evoke the need for order and symmetry. Therapists work with individuals to create a hierarchy of anxiety-inducing scenarios, starting with those that cause mild discomfort and progressing to more challenging situations.
  3. Resisting Compulsions: The response prevention component of ERP is crucial. Individuals are guided to resist engaging in their usual compulsive behaviours despite the heightened anxiety. Over time, this helps to break the cycle of obsessive thoughts and compulsive rituals.
  4. Building Tolerance: ERP aims to build tolerance to uncertainty and discomfort. By confronting the fear of disorder without engaging in compulsions, individuals gradually learn that the anticipated negative consequences do not occur, leading to a reduction in anxiety over time.
  5. Therapeutic Support: ERP is most effective when conducted under the guidance of a trained therapist. Therapists provide support, encouragement, and structure throughout the process, helping individuals navigate the challenging journey of confronting and overcoming their Ordering OCD.


Ordering OCD can cast a shadow over the lives of those affected, but there is hope in the form of Exposure and Response Prevention. By systematically facing the fear of disorder and resisting the compulsive rituals, individuals with Ordering OCD can reclaim their lives from the grip of obsessive thoughts. Seeking professional help is a crucial step towards understanding and managing this challenging subtype of OCD, offering a path toward lasting recovery and improved well-being.

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