What is False Memory OCD? (+7 Causes)  

The current blogpost will be explaining what False Memory OCD is. We will also be checking out the symptoms of False Memory OCD and the reasons why these develop in a person. Finally, we will be listing the various treatment methods which are available for False Memory OCD.

What is False Memory OCD?

False Memory OCD is a subtype of OCD in which the person continuously obsesses over some event in the past. This is called False Memory OCD since the person may worry that they have done something wrong in the past, even if they have not done so.

This constant rumination and obsession about a false memory that they have created for themselves in their minds can lead to a lot of anxiety and stress in the person. To get closure about these memories, the person may often engage in certain compulsive behaviors.

Symptoms of False Memory OCD

False Memory OCD can present itself in many ways depending on person to person. The symptoms of False Memory OCD have been discussed in the following section.

Constant rumination about the past

If a person is experiencing False Memory OCD, they might constantly ruminate about the past and their false memory. They may be found to be always in thought, distracted when they are working and constantly thinking about their false memory.

Seeking proof of the memory

Apart from thinking and ruminating about their false memory, the person may constantly think about proof regarding that particular memory. This means that they will go through their memory page by page to seek proof of that situation in their minds.

High levels of anxiety

As a result of constant rumination about their past, those who are experiencing False Memory OCD may experience high levels of anxiety. The anxiety will also be enhanced because they might not find actual proof about their memory since it is a false one.

Following certain routines strictly

Aside from thinking about the false memory often, the person may also follow certain routines strictly. These routines can have different purposes, such as distracting them from the memory, or as punishment for that memory or in avoiding triggers of that memory.

Avoiding some people

Another symptom of False Memory OCD is that the person may actively avoid some people and even situations that remind of that situation. This can affect their social lives and even their work lives.

Punishing themselves

The false memory which has been created in the mind may also lead the person to feel excessively guilty about their actions. In order to redeem themselves, they may punish themselves through ways like starvation, physically harming themselves or something else.

Trying to distract often

Since the false memory can cause a great deal of stress, the person may try their best to be distracted all the time so that they don’t think about it. Often, these acts of distraction will only lead the person to think about that false memory even more.

Confessing their mistakes

The primary response from the person when it comes to their false memory is feelings of guilt. Apart from punishing themselves to make up for their mistakes, the person may also confess this to someone else or even to the person they think they wronged.

Recreating the physical setting

The false memory may also become so strong that the person may physically recreate the memory in order to build up proof. For instance, they may visit the scene physically or even rearrange the things that they ‘remember’ in the false memory.

Causes of False Memory OCD

False Memory OCD can be manifested as a result of several reasons and trigger factors. The main causes of False Memory OCD are:

  • Strong emotions related to the event: For False Memory OCD to occur in a person, they need to go through an event which acts as a trigger factor. This particular event needs to instill very strong emotions in the person for the false memory to be created.
  • Wrong perceptions of the event: Once the event has occurred, the person may later perceive it in a wrong manner. Through wrong perceptions of the event, the person may create a false memory of it in their mind and may obsess about it later.
  • Combination of several false memories together: The person may also string a bunch of memories together to create a big false memory in their head. The individual parts of the memory may be true which can make the obsession stronger.
  • Listening to suggestions put forth by others: Other than their own thoughts and ideas about the false memory, the false memory may also be strengthened through suggestions put forth by others. The effect may be stronger if the person suggesting is a trusted one.
  • Fear of certain sexual thoughts: Certain themes and concepts have a bigger effect on the mind, for instance sexual thoughts. In case of any particular sexual experience, the person may also develop a great fear of certain sexual thoughts.
  • High levels of stress: High levels of stress can also trigger a false memory and obsession related to it in the person. The stress can come because of different factors, but those related to relationships, romance and family can be experienced in a stronger intensity.
  • Crime and physical violence: Another trigger factor which can lead a person to develop a false memory is crime or some physical violence. Being a victim of a certain crime can make the person replay the false memories often as they might feel scared or even guilty.

Treatment methods for False Memory OCD

False Memory OCD can be treated through a number of ways. The most common types of treatment which are used for False Memory OCD are:


The primary type of treatment for False Memory OCD is medication. These include antidepressants and even Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SRIs to improve the mood and decrease the anxiety levels.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Apart from medication, different forms of psychotherapy are also recommended for False Memory OCD. Mostly, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is used. Through CBT, the person will learn new cognitive strategies and be able to reframe their thinking patterns.

Exposure Therapy

Another type of treatment which can be useful for False Memory OCD is Exposure Therapy. Here, the person is slowly exposed to their anxiety-inducing thoughts and encouraged to use their coping strategies whenever they feel that their stress levels are increasing.

Group Therapy

Group therapy can also be used for those who have False Memory OCD. The advantage of group therapy sessions is that the person will be able to find emotional support and social support as well.

Coping Strategies

Apart from the medical treatment, certain coping strategies can also be useful in the treatment and management of False Memory OCD. Examples of these coping strategies are,

  • Maintaining a healthy routine and schedule to not only distract the person from the intrusive thoughts but to also ensure that they are eating and sleeping well everyday
  • Practicing mindfulness activities and exercises on a daily basis to encourage them to focus on the present rather than worrying about the past
  • Body scanning and other relaxation exercises to help the person physically calm down, which can positive affect their minds as well
  • Grounding exercises like changing the environment, or deep breathing to instantly reduce stress and anxiety levels
  • Using worksheets to write down the intrusive thoughts and analyze if they are true or false in nature. These worksheets are often given by therapists and counselors


The current blogpost has explained what False Memory OCD is. We have also checked out the symptoms of False Memory OCD and the reasons why these develop in a person. Finally, we have listed the various treatment methods which are available for False Memory OCD.

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