Date of Completion


Thesis Type

College of Arts and Science Honors



First Advisor

Dr. Deborah Blom

Second Advisor

Dr. Jeanne Shea

Third Advisor

Dr. Keith Burt


"Pure O" Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Intrusive Thoughts, Illness Experiences, Media Representation, Online Support Groups, ERP


Even with OCD being estimated at a worldwide prevalence rate of 2%, the various manifestations of the disorder aren’t well known in modern society and the mental health fields. The purpose of this study is to examine how individuals with primarily obsessional (“Pure O”) Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, a rarer form of OCD, access information about the disorder. Also, it investigates whether the ways OCD is portrayed in the media might hinder diagnosis for these individuals. The study’s 10 survey questions, related to individuals’ experiences of realizing their condition and accessing effective treatment, helped to generate qualitative data for analysis. It discusses the importance of recognizing how relatively-new internet chat groups, that offer the ability to freely discuss with like-minded individuals, have affected individuals’ experience of their illness. This thesis argues for the importance of trained mental health professionals who can identify “Pure O” and treat it with Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy and/or assisted medication. It also highlights the humanness of these individuals and calls for more accurate portrayals of “Pure O” in the media.