Unraveling the Intricacies of Symmetry OCD

symmetry ocd Nov 20, 2023
Symmetry OCD

Symmetry OCD, a subtype of OCD, revolves around an intense preoccupation with symmetry and balance. This condition can significantly impact an individual's daily life, causing distress and interference. In this blog, we'll explore the symptoms of Symmetry OCD and delve into the effective treatment approach known as Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) Therapy.

Symptoms of Symmetry OCD:

  1. Obsessive Focus on Symmetry: Individuals with Symmetry OCD often experience intrusive thoughts related to achieving perfect symmetry. This can extend to everyday objects, personal appearance, or even mental processes. The obsession with symmetry becomes a constant, consuming preoccupation.
  2. Compulsive Symmetry-Seeking Behaviours: The hallmark of Symmetry OCD is the compulsive need to alleviate the distress caused by asymmetry. This may involve repetitive actions such as arranging items meticulously, checking and rechecking the alignment of objects, or engaging in specific rituals to restore perceived balance.
  3. Intrusive Mental Rituals: Beyond observable behaviours, Symmetry OCD may involve intrusive mental rituals where individuals engage in repetitive thoughts or mental actions to neutralize the anxiety associated with perceived asymmetry. This can be mentally exhausting and time-consuming.
  4. Functional Impairment: Symmetry OCD can significantly impact daily functioning, leading to time-consuming rituals that interfere with work, relationships, and personal pursuits. The constant need for symmetry can make routine activities challenging and affect overall quality of life.

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) Therapy

  1. Understanding ERP: ERP is a cognitive-behavioural therapy approach that stands as a gold standard in treating OCD, including Symmetry OCD. The central premise of ERP is to expose individuals to anxiety-provoking stimuli (exposure) and then prevent the accompanying ritualistic response (response prevention).
  2. Creating Controlled Exposure Scenarios: In Symmetry OCD, ERP involves creating controlled scenarios that trigger the obsession with symmetry. This could include intentionally arranging items in a slightly asymmetrical manner or deliberately engaging in activities without correcting perceived imbalances.
  3. Resisting Compulsive Behaviours: The key component of ERP is the intentional resistance to engaging in compulsive symmetry-seeking behaviours. Individuals undergoing ERP therapy learn to sit with the discomfort triggered by asymmetry without resorting to ritualistic actions, gradually breaking the cycle of obsession and compulsion.
  4. Therapist Guidance and Support: ERP therapy is typically conducted under the guidance of a trained therapist. The therapist provides support, guidance, and encouragement as individuals navigate the challenging process of facing their fears and resisting the urge to engage in compulsive behaviours.
  5. Gradual Exposure Hierarchy: ERP therapy often follows a gradual exposure hierarchy, starting with less anxiety-provoking scenarios and progressing to more challenging ones. This systematic approach allows individuals to build resilience and tolerance to the anxiety associated with asymmetry.


Symmetry OCD can be a formidable challenge, impacting various facets of life for those affected. However, there is hope in the form of effective treatment options, with ERP therapy standing out as a powerful tool in the arsenal against Symmetry OCD. By confronting fears and resisting compulsive behaviours, individuals can reclaim control over their lives and break free from the grip of Symmetry OCD. Seeking professional help and engaging in ERP therapy can pave the way towards a more balanced and fulfilling life.

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