As I’ve mentioned before, when Dan told me he had OCD my first comment was “But you never even wash your hands!” While that comment surely revealed my limited knowledge regarding the disorder, what I was really trying to say was that he had no outward signs of OCD. There was no repeated checking to see if the front door was locked, no order that had to be maintained in his room (in fact it was a mess), and not even any requests for reassurance from me. But yet, he has OCD.
Enter Pure-O, or Pure Obsessional OCD. I have seen conflicting information as to the actual definition of Pure-O. It is sometimes described as having the obsessions that come with OCD, but not the compulsions. So, it’s OCD without the C? This doesn’t really make sense to me, because that is just not OCD. The more accepted definition is that those with Pure-O have obsessions without any easily observable compulsions. Compulsions are mental (such as counting to yourself), or perhaps take the form of avoidance behaviors or other easily missed signs of OCD, such as tapping. This site give a good detailed description of Pure-O.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing they say, and now that I know what I know, there definitely were signs of Dan’s OCD. He had stopped eating ice cream and would no longer go into our backyard swimming pool. And he did a lot of touching and tapping. But these things certainly never stopped us in our tracks with the realization that Dan has OCD. At the time his disorder was just not visible enough.
So does Dan have Pure-O? I haven’t really thought about it until now, and I think the answer is it doesn’t really matter. I don’t want to get caught up in semantics, and Exposure Response Prevention Therapy is still the therapy of choice (though other forms of therapy are discussed briefly in the link above).
So why even bring it up, you might ask? Well, to me, Pure-O is just another example of how insidious OCD can be. And because Pure-O sufferers can often hide their OCD easily, they may suffer even longer than others in silence.