The term Pure O or purely obsessional was coined by Dr Steven Phillipson in 1988 to help those people who didn’t have obvious physical compulsions get diagnosed as having OCD. The term has proven very useful in raising awareness around intrusive thoughts, and mental compulsions being part of OCD. No doubt countless lives have been saved because of this term.
It does need some explaining however, as the term can also confuse some people.
OCD is made up of obsessions and compulsions. So the term Pure O unintentionally implies people are ‘purely obsessional’ which isn’t true. They have compulsions, but the compulsions are mostly not physical (visible). Some people with Pure O will ask for reassurance, ruminate, make mental lists, do mental checking and many other compulsions in their head. So they are doing compulsions, it’s just not physical or visible.
It’s a very useful term and has helped people find a community, and get adequate treatment. But don’t forget OCD is OCD.
Hope that helps clarify things.
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