Episode 11: Real Event OCD

Episode 11

Real Event OCD

In this episode of Purely OCD, Lauren and Kelley chat about Real Event OCD. They go over common obsessions and compulsions, and also talk Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) – the go-to treatment for OCD. They also consider unique challenges that people with this subtype face and answer questions from viewers.

This episode called for a celebration – because Kelley is a bad ass and passed her Clinical Exam – now proudly holding the title of Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist!!! 

But I guess that takes us off the rails. Back to the meat of this episode.

In Real Event OCD, obsessions relate to an event that has occurred.

Lauren and Kelley discuss how this subtype touches many other subtypes, such as Harm OCD, Superstitious OCD, Contamination OCD and Moral Scrupulosity, among others.  Lauren uses a flower and its petals to describe this:

Overlapping OCD Subtypes - Superstitious OCD, Harm OCD, Moral Scrupulosity, POCD, Contamination OCD, Just Right OCD and Real Event OCD

Given that their thoughts relate to a real event, people with this type of OCD are even more inclined to fear that their symptoms aren’t OCD at all. Thus, a common obsession for people with this variant is “What if it’s not OCD?”  and its close cousin: “Maybe I am really just a terrible person.”

So what can Real Event OCD look like? Perhaps you lied on a job application. The Real Event is that you did lie. Obsessions related to this might include “What if I’m a bad person?” or “What if I get caught?” The compulsions might involve continually reviewing the event to make sure that you learned your lesson or to try to make the “right” choice in order to remedy the circumstances. People with this type might be inclined to compulsively confess. As with other subtypes, the behaviors are in excess of what would be considered reasonable. 

Kelley and Lauren address a question about refocusing on valued activities when the desire to do compulsions arises.    

Focusing on expressing the qualities that matter most to us directs our attention away from our focus on compulsions. Interested in learning more about values from an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) perspective? Check out page 11 of this worksheet.

Kelley gives an example of how value-driven actions can support recovery:

“I really have to drive a car even though I’ve been in an accident (a real event), because I have to pick up my daughter from school.  I don’t want to leave her by herself (I love and value my daughter), so I get in the car and drive in spite of the anxiety around it.” 

Kelley Franke, LMFT

Refocusing on values can help people with OCD to live meaningful lives in the face of upsetting thoughts and challenging emotions.


Like what you’ve heard? We’d love to hear your feedback. Head over to your podcast app of choice where you can comment and like the podcast in order to help build our audience and spread awareness about OCD. While you’re there, subscribe so you never miss an episode.

Sign Up for Updates from Us

Subscribe below to receive info on our latest news and episodes

Disclaimer: This information is meant to be general information not unique to any individual. Before following any guidance or advice found on this site or in the Purely OCD Podcast a visitor or listener should always consult with their own licensed healthcare practitioner. The Purely OCD Podcast and Website are not therapy or intended as a replacement for therapy. They are for educational purposes only.

Leave a Reply