Emotional Contamination In OCD: All About It

Emotional Contamination In OCD

OCD, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts, compulsive behavior, and feelings of dread. One of the lesser-known facets of OCD is something called “emotional contamination”. This type of contamination occurs when a person with OCD believes that they could be feeling emotions that are not their own. In this article, we’ll explore emotional contamination in more detail and discuss some tips for managing it. We’ll also look at how this form of OCD differs from other types and how those affected can break free from its grip. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of emotional contamination in OCD and ways to cope with it.

What is OCD?

OCD, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, is a mental disorder in which individuals experience recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or engage in repetitive behaviors (compulsions) that they feel unable to control. People with OCD often worry that they will contaminate themselves or others with germs or dirt, or that something bad will happen if they don’t perform certain rituals (like washing their hands over and over). These obsessions and compulsions can cause a great deal of distress and interfere with daily life.

What is Emotional Contamination?

Emotional contamination occurs when a person experiences intense emotions (usually negative) in response to something that is not actually dangerous or harmful. These emotions can be so strong that they lead to avoidance behaviors, as the person tries to escape the feeling.

People with OCD are especially vulnerable to emotional contamination because of their tendency to worry excessively about things that might be contaminated (e.g., germs, dirt, chemicals). This may cause them to feel overwhelmed by negative emotions when they are exposed to potential contaminants. They may also avoid situations or people that they fear will trigger these emotions.

Treatment for emotional contamination typically involves exposure and response prevention (ERP), which is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy. This treatment helps people gradually face their fears and learn to cope with the intense emotions that they experience.

How Does Emotional Contamination Affect People with OCD?

Emotional contamination is a term used to describe the anxiety that people with OCD feel when they are exposed to emotions that they perceive as negative. This can include exposure to other people’s negative emotions, such as sadness, anger, or fear. It can also include exposure to environments or situations that the person with OCD associates with negative emotions.

For example, a person with OCD might avoid going to a friend’s house if they know that the friend is going through a difficult time because they fear that they will catch the friend’s negative emotions. Or, a person with OCD might avoid watching news reports about natural disasters or other tragic events, because they fear that doing so will make them feel too sad or anxious.

In some cases, emotional contamination can be so severe that it leads to complete social isolation. People with OCD may become afraid to leave their homes or interact with other people for fear of being exposed to negative emotions.

Is Emotional Contamination In OCD Common?

Emotional contamination is a relatively common symptom of OCD, affecting an estimated 1 in 3 people with the disorder. Emotional contamination occurs when a person experiences intense negative emotions (fear, anxiety, sadness, shame, etc.) as a result of exposure to something that they believe is contaminated or dangerous.

This can lead to avoidance of people, places, and things that are associated with negative emotions. In severe cases, emotional contamination can severely restrict a person’s ability to function in their daily life.p.

What Are Some Ways To Deal With Emotional Contamination?

Dealing with emotional contamination can be difficult, but there are some strategies that can help.

  • Identify how you’re feeling: It’s important to identify how you’re feeling in order to better understand why you may be experiencing emotional contamination. Take time to name the emotions and sit with them, allowing yourself to process and express them in a healthy way.
  • Practice mindful breathing: Taking a few minutes each day to focus on your breath can be incredibly calming and help you stay grounded in the present moment. Practicing mindful breathing helps bring attention to what is happening within you, rather than trying to ignore or suppress it.
  • Reach out for support: Having social support can make a huge difference when dealing with emotional contamination. Reach out to friends, family members, or mental health professionals who can provide a safe space for you to process your feelings without judgment.
  • Take care of yourself: Make sure that your basic needs are met by eating well, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and engaging in activities that nurture your mind and body such as meditation or yoga. Taking care of yourself will help reduce the intensity of negative emotions that can cause emotional contamination.
  • Set boundaries: Setting healthy boundaries can help prevent overwhelming emotions from taking over. Clearly communicate your needs to people in your life, and don’t be afraid to say “no” when necessary. When you are feeling overwhelmed, it’s okay to take a step back and create space for yourself.
  • Trying grounding techniques: Grounding techniques can be used to help center and realign your thoughts when feeling overwhelmed with emotional contamination. Examples include journaling, getting outside in nature, and engaging in creative activities like coloring or painting.


In conclusion, emotional contamination in OCD is a complex issue that can cause immense distress to those suffering from it. Be sure to seek help if you are struggling with this phenomenon and don’t be afraid to ask for help. With proper treatment, emotional contamination can be managed effectively and bring an individual back into balance. Keep these key points in mind when dealing with emotional contamination: recognize the signs early on, practice mindfulness as often as possible, engage in healthy coping mechanisms, and reach out for professional help when necessary.

For more information and guidance, please contact MantraCare. OCD is a mental health disorder characterized by obsessions and compulsions. If you have any queries regarding Online OCD Counseling experienced therapists at MantraCare can help: Book a trial OCD therapy session

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