13 Signs That You Might Have Harm OCD

A checklist of common symptoms and behaviors. If you're suffering, consult a licensed professional.

Key Takeaways:
  • Harm OCD is the obsessive fear of hurting others or yourself. It is one of the more common manifestations of Pure OCD.
  • Identifying subtypes of Pure OCD can be very difficult. Symptoms manifest differently for each sufferer. However, there tend to be common thoughts and behaviors that may indicate someone is suffering from Harm OCD.
  • Dr. Jordan Levy is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Manhattan at the Center for Cognitive-Behavioral Psychotherapy and in Livingston, New Jersey.

1. Do you spend hours and hours attempting to figure out if you present a risk to your spouse, family, friends, and/or strangers?

2. Are you bombarded with intrusive thoughts or images of stabbing, suffocating, shooting, punching, and/or murder?

3. Do you worry that these thoughts may mean you are a “bad person?”

4. Do you often have intrusive thoughts of accidental harm such as poisoning others while cooking or hitting a pedestrian with your car?

5. Do you avoid being alone with others, as you fear you may act on your harm thoughts?

6. Do you attempt to avoid getting angry? For example, thinking things like “If I get angry then I may “snap” and impulsively commit a violent act.”

7. Do you avoid large crowds due to your harm fears?

8. Do you avoid objects that can cause harm such as knives, scissors, or guns?

9. Have you taken precautionary measures to protect others? For example, thinking things like “I should hide all the knives in my house. It would be safer if I stand further away from others.”

10. Does watching violent movies or hearing violent news stories create immense anxiety for you? For example, thinking things like “Am I like this character? Am I enjoying this violence because I’m a dangerous sociopath?”

11. Do you abstain from drugs and/or alcohol to minimize your risk of impulsively causing harm?

12. Have you researched serial killers in an attempt to seek reassurance that you are dissimilar to them?

13. Do you compulsively check to see if you have committed a crime that you may not remember? For example, reading the crime section of the newspaper, calling the police to see if a crime was reported in the area, or driving in circles to see if you hit someone.

*This checklist is not intended to serve as a replacement for a diagnosis by a qualified licensed psychologist.