Difference Between Obsession and Compulsion

The confusion between the terms “compulsion” and “obsession” rests mainly on the fact that both are interrelated to the point where many people believe that they are synonymous, which is not true.  Difference Between Obsession and Compulsion

If you still don’t know what the difference between obsession and compulsion is or you are simply looking for a little more information to complement what you already know, then keep reading, because below we explain everything you need to know about this interesting topic so popular and so misunderstood today.

OBSESSION  Difference Between Obsession and Compulsion

An obsession is nothing more than a fixation. A person can develop an extreme fixation or attachment to an object, a belief, and even another person. When this happens, the result is that those who are obsessed find themselves constantly thinking about someone or something, wanting extremely to protect or have it.

Someone may be obsessed with something and not necessarily take action or perform a series of rituals in response to that obsession.


On the other hand, compulsion consists of the feeling that one must do something; it’s basically feeling forced to do something. In the mind of the affected person this feeling of being forced can derive from another person, from themselves or even from the universe.

Anyone who feels forced to do something thinks that a misfortune will happen if he does not do it. Compulsive behaviors become habits that people do automatically and feel that they should be done even when circumstances do not favor that type of behavior.

Both compulsions and obsessions are considered mental health problems, and are very often related to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder; however, as suggested above, one of these problems can occur individually; that is, someone can be obsessive without having compulsions, but whenever there are compulsions, there are obsessive thoughts.

Who suffers from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder experiences two types of behavior: obsession and compulsion. The first refers to persistent, intrusive and unwanted thoughts ; It could also present itself as images and impulses. These are almost always unrealistic ideas and concerns about the catastrophic consequences of trivial events. For example: someone who thinks that if they do not wash their hands more than 100 times a day they will be exposed to germs that will kill them.


Finally, in the case of obsessions, although the person knows that their ideas are unreal, they cannot be controlled. This makes you feel very anxious and turn to compulsions for relief. Therefore, it is clear that obsessions are thoughts, while compulsions are actions.

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