Articles By Carol Edwards

How To Overcome Non-Touch Contamination Fears In OCD

What is the difference between no touch contamination OCD and regular contamination fears?

First, let's suppose Mr X has an aversion to shaking hands with people. Now let's assume the fear is that he'll catch a disease and spread germs. After shaking hands, he might first use anti-bacterial wipes and later will engage in a prolonged handwashing ritual. You can see how coming into contact with people produces a feeling of discomfort for Mr X. Non-contact contamination OCD, on the other hand, is when a triggering stimulus takes place through human interaction without touching.

Past events

Non-contact contamination fears, also known as mental or emotional contamination OCD, can be linked to an unpleasant memory or event. When predisposed to OCD, this can, but not always, be the environmental onset for developing the disorder. For example, as a small child, "Sarah" shared a toilet cubicle with her "aunt". On seeing she was menstruating and not understanding what it was, she remembers being horrified. After her first menstrual cycle, she developed an aversion towards women.

Can contact and emotional contamination fears can be experienced together?

Yes, "Sam", for example, struggles with coming into contact with germs by touching door handles and also when brushing past the private area of others, even when they're clothed, which is non-contact contamination fears. When Sam was on the verge of reaching puberty, he recalls reluctantly sitting through sex-education classes, which reinforced to him that his body was changing. Yet, emotionally, Sam hadn't reached the stage for grasping the concept of what was involved in the topics discussed (e.g., relationships, birth control and sexually transmitted diseases - STDs). It was during this time that he remembers the onset for the emotional contamination obsession.

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