Compulsions are best described as

What Are Common Obsessions and Compulsions?

Everyday Health: What are some common obsessions and compulsions of people living with OCD?

Jeff Szymanski, PhD (

Obsessions: Thoughts, images, or impulses that occur over and over again and feel out of the person's control. The person does not want to have these ideas. He or she finds them disturbing and unwanted, and usually knows that they don't make sense. They come with uncomfortable feelings, such as fear, disgust, doubt, or a feeling that things have to be done in a way that is "just right." They take a lot of time and get in the way of important activities the person values. Compulsions: Repetitive behaviors or thoughts that a person engages in to neutralize, counteract, or make their obsessions go away. People with OCD realize this is only a temporary solution, but without a better way to cope, they rely on the compulsion as a temporary escape. Compulsions can also include avoiding situations that trigger obsessions. Compulsions are time consuming and get in the way of important activities the person values.

Common Obsessions in OCD


  • Body fluids (examples: urine, feces)
  • Germs/disease (examples: herpes, HIV)
  • Environmental contaminants (examples: asbestos, radiation)
  • Household chemicals (examples: cleaners, solvents)
  • Dirt

Losing Control:

  • Fear of acting on an impulse to harm oneself
  • Fear of acting on an impulse to harm others
  • Fear of violent or horrific images in one’s mind
  • Fear of blurting out obscenities or insults
  • Fear of stealing things


  • Fear of being responsible for something terrible happening (examples: fire, burglary)
  • Fear of harming others because of not being careful enough (example: dropping something on the ground that might cause someone to slip and hurt him/herself)


  • Concern about evenness or exactness
  • Concern with a need to know or remember
  • Fear of losing or forgetting important information when throwing something out
  • Inability to decide whether to keep or to discard things
  • Fear of losing things

Unwanted Sexual Thoughts:

  • Forbidden or perverse sexual thoughts or images
  • Forbidden or perverse sexual impulses about others
  • Obsessions about homosexuality
  • Sexual obsessions that involve children or incest
  • Obsessions about aggressive sexual behavior towards others

Religious Obsessions (Scrupulosity):

  • Concern with offending God, or concern about blasphemy
  • Excessive concern with right/wrong or morality

Other Obsessions:

  • Concern with getting a physical illness or disease (not by contamination, e. g., cancer)
  • Superstitious ideas about lucky/unlucky numbers, certain colors

Common Compulsions in OCD

Washing and Cleaning:

  • Washing hands excessively or in a certain way
  • Excessive showering, bathing, tooth brushing, grooming or toilet routines
  • Cleaning household items or other objects excessively
  • Doing other things to prevent or remove contact with contaminants


  • Checking that you did not/will not harm others
  • Checking that you did not/will not harm yourself
  • Checking that nothing terrible happened
  • Checking that you did not make a mistake
  • Checking some parts of your physical condition or body


  • Rereading or rewriting
  • Repeating routine activities (examples: going in or out doors, getting up or down from chairs)
  • Repeating body movements (example: tapping, touching, blinking)
  • Repeating activities in "multiples" (examples: doing a task three times because three is a "good," "right," "safe" number)

Mental Compulsions:

  • Mental review of events to prevent harm (to oneself, others, to prevent terrible consequences)
  • Praying to prevent harm (to oneself, others, to prevent terrible consequences)
  • Counting while performing a task to end on a "good," "right," or "safe" number
  • "Cancelling" or "Undoing" (example: replacing a "bad" word with a "good" word to cancel it out)

Other Compulsions:

  • Collecting items that results in significant clutter in the home (also called hoarding)
  • Putting things in order or arranging things until it "feels right"
  • Telling, asking, or confessing to get reassurance
  • Avoiding situations that might trigger your obsessions

Jonathan Abramowitz, PhD (jabramowitz. com)

Common obsessions include: fears of contamination/germs, causing harm (perhaps by hitting someone with a car that you don’t mean to), making mistakes (leaving the door unlocked), disasters (causing a fire), certain numbers (such as 13 and 666), unwanted violent thoughts (thought of harming a loved one), blasphemous thoughts (cursing God), sexual thought (what if I’m a child molester, gay, or want to have sex with my mother?), need for symmetry and exactness, and thoughts that something is terribly wrong with your body (what if I have cancer?). A general theme is that obsessions concern situations where there is some degree of uncertainty (what if "X" happens and I didn’t do enough to prevent it?) Compulsive rituals are all about trying to get reassurance and certainty. For example, washing to remove germs, praying to counter blasphemous or sacrilegious thoughts that could result in going to hell, checking for assurances that doors are locked or people are OK, putting things in order (arranging), repeating other behaviors to get rid of a thought (turning a light off and on until a bad thought goes away). Also common are mental rituals that take place purely in the person’s mind.

Steven J. Brodsky, PsyD (

There are thousands of forms of OCD, as unique as each individual. They are not limited to the ones you see on TV with themes of checking, germaphobic cleaning, ordering, perfectionism, hoarding, and hypochondriasis, etc. They can also involve body dysmorphic disorder, scrupulosity, religious OCD, relationship OCD (ROCD) in which people wonder if they love their partner or vice versa, HOCD (homosexuality OCD) in which the sufferer doubts his or her sexual orientation. OCD can even take a nonsense form, with unanswerable metaphysical questions, a song that sticks in your mind, thinking about one's swallowing or blinking, etc.

Charles H. Elliott, PhD, and Laura L. Smith, PhD (

Common obsessions include fears about contamination, worries about having left appliances on or doors unlocked, fear of acting in shameful or humiliating ways, discomfort about things being out of order, extreme concerns about superstitions such as unlucky numbers or colors, and excessive worries about keeping objects of all kinds. Common compulsions include excessive cleaning and hand washing; repeatedly checking doors, locks, appliances, and such; rituals designed to ward off contact with superstitious objects; using prayers or chants to prevent bad things from happening; arranging and rearranging objects; and hoarding huge numbers of ordinary objects.

Kenneth Schwarz, PhD (

Some common obsessions have to do with becoming contaminated, being or becoming too aggressive, having persistent sexual thoughts, being susceptible to injury or disease. There is also religious scrupulosity, where a person has unwanted, blasphemous thoughts that she must work hard to keep under control, and out of her mind, so she doesn't just blurt them out - which is what makes her so anxious. The common element in all these obsessions are persistent, unwanted thoughts that cause a person considerable anxiety. Common compulsions used to get rid of these obsessions come under the headings of checking, cleaning, decontamination rituals, counting, and putting or keeping things in a certain order.

Charlotte M. Scott (

Common obsessions and compulsions that many are familiar with include the fear of germs and sickness, constant hand washing, using bleach wipes to handle everyday objects that other people have touched, and an overwhelming compulsion to clean and possibly hoard. A person may be filled with anxiety walking across a soccer field and seeing orange peels, candy wrappers, or empty water bottles and desperately wants to rid the field of the trash and clutter, yet the stronger obsession of not touching the items because of germs and bacteria creates the need to control others to pick up the items. Many people with OCD become hoarders triggered by the death of a loved one and the feeling that they must keep everything to protect the memories.

Barbara Tako (

Someone with OCD might be afraid to throw anything away and have strong emotional attachments to many things they own. On the other end of the scale, someone with OCD might turn down a coffee date or other social activity to stick with their cleaning schedule.

Allen H. Weg, EdD (

The most common obsessions are worries that something is "contaminated" which results in excessive avoidance or excessive washing. Another common compulsion is checking behavior, which results when a person's obsession makes him not feel sure about something (e.g., "Is it locked?" "Is it turned off?" "Did I leave that thing behind?") Other obsessions may have to do with sexual identity ("Am I gay?") which results in attempts to seek reassurance that one is not gay. Also, fear of loss of impulse control, or a sense that one will act out and do something "crazy," resulting in obsessions such as "maybe I will grab a knife and kill someone before I realize what I am doing," or " maybe I will just fling my body off of a high place and kill myself." These obsessions result in people avoiding sharp objects or knives, or places of perceived danger, such as the kitchen, or high places. Besides Checkers, Hoarders, and Aggressive OCD, as depicted above, there is also ordering OCD, counting OCD, symmetry OCD, and hoarding OCD (though research has of late been demonstrating that this last form may be a different disorder altogether).

NIMH » Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts ("obsessions") and/or behaviors ("compulsions") that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.

Signs and Symptoms

People with OCD may have symptoms of obsessions, compulsions, or both. These symptoms can interfere with all aspects of life, such as work, school, and personal relationships.

Obsessions are repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that cause anxiety. Common symptoms include:

  • Fear of germs or contamination
  • Unwanted forbidden or taboo thoughts involving sex, religion, or harm
  • Aggressive thoughts towards others or self
  • Having things symmetrical or in a perfect order

Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that a person with OCD feels the urge to do in response to an obsessive thought. Common compulsions include:

  • Excessive cleaning and/or handwashing
  • Ordering and arranging things in a particular, precise way
  • Repeatedly checking on things, such as repeatedly checking to see if the door is locked or that the oven is off
  • Compulsive counting

Not all rituals or habits are compulsions. Everyone double checks things sometimes. But a person with OCD generally:

  • Can't control his or her thoughts or behaviors, even when those thoughts or behaviors are recognized as excessive
  • Spends at least 1 hour a day on these thoughts or behaviors
  • Doesn’t get pleasure when performing the behaviors or rituals, but may feel brief relief from the anxiety the thoughts cause
  • Experiences significant problems in their daily life due to these thoughts or behaviors

Some individuals with OCD also have a tic disorder. Motor tics are sudden, brief, repetitive movements, such as eye blinking and other eye movements, facial grimacing, shoulder shrugging, and head or shoulder jerking. Common vocal tics include repetitive throat-clearing, sniffing, or grunting sounds.

Symptoms may come and go, ease over time, or worsen. People with OCD may try to help themselves by avoiding situations that trigger their obsessions, or they may use alcohol or drugs to calm themselves. Although most adults with OCD recognize that what they are doing doesn’t make sense, some adults and most children may not realize that their behavior is out of the ordinary. Parents or teachers typically recognize OCD symptoms in children.

If you think you have OCD, talk to your health care provider about your symptoms. If left untreated, OCD can interfere in all aspects of life.

Risk Factors

OCD is a common disorder that affects adults, adolescents, and children all over the world. Most people are diagnosed by about age 19, typically with an earlier age of onset in boys than in girls, but onset after age 35 does happen. For statistics on OCD in adults, please see the NIMH Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder webpage.

The causes of OCD are unknown, but risk factors include:


Twin and family studies have shown that people with first-degree relatives (such as a parent, sibling, or child) who have OCD are at a higher risk for developing OCD themselves. The risk is higher if the first-degree relative developed OCD as a child or teen. Ongoing research continues to explore the connection between genetics and OCD and may help improve OCD diagnosis and treatment.

Brain Structure and Functioning

Imaging studies have shown differences in the frontal cortex and subcortical structures of the brain in patients with OCD. There appears to be a connection between the OCD symptoms and abnormalities in certain areas of the brain, but that connection is not clear. Research is still underway. Understanding the causes will help determine specific, personalized treatments to treat OCD.


An association between childhood trauma and obsessive-compulsive symptoms has been reported in some studies. More research is needed to understand this relationship better.

In some cases, children may develop OCD or OCD symptoms following a streptococcal infection—this is called Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS). For more information, please read NIMH's fact sheet on PANDAS.

Treatments and Therapies

OCD is typically treated with medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. Although most patients with OCD respond to treatment, some patients continue to experience symptoms.

Sometimes people with OCD also have other mental disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and body dysmorphic disorder, a disorder in which someone mistakenly believes that a part of their body is abnormal. It is important to consider these other disorders when making decisions about treatment.


Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs), which include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are used to help reduce OCD symptoms.

SRIs often require higher daily doses in the treatment of OCD than of depression and may take 8 to 12 weeks to start working, but some patients experience more rapid improvement.

If symptoms do not improve with these types of medications, research shows that some patients may respond well to an antipsychotic medication. Although research shows that an antipsychotic medication may help manage symptoms for people who have both OCD and a tic disorder, research on the effectiveness of antipsychotics to treat OCD is mixed.

If you are prescribed a medication, be sure you:

  • Talk with your health care provider or a pharmacist to make sure you understand the risks and benefits of the medications you're taking.
  • Do not stop taking a medication without talking to your health care provider first. Suddenly stopping a medication may lead to "rebound" or worsening of OCD symptoms. Other uncomfortable or potentially dangerous withdrawal effects are also possible.
  • Report any concerns about side effects to your health care provider right away. You may need a change in the dose or a different medication.
  • Report serious side effects to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online or by phone at 1-800-332-1088. You or your health care provider may send a report.

Other medications have been used to treat OCD, but more research is needed to show the benefit of these options. For basic information about these medications, you can visit the NIMH Mental Health Medications webpage. For the most up-to-date information on medications, side effects, and warnings, visit the FDA website.


Psychotherapy can be an effective treatment for adults and children with OCD. Research shows that certain types of psychotherapy, including cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and other related therapies (e.g., habit reversal training) can be as effective as medication for many individuals. Research also shows that a type of CBT called Exposure and Response Prevention (EX/RP)—spending time in the very situation that triggers compulsions (e. g. touching dirty objects) but then being prevented from undertaking the usual resulting compulsion (e.g. handwashing)—is effective in reducing compulsive behaviors in OCD, even in people who did not respond well to SRI medication.

As with most mental disorders, treatment is usually personalized and might begin with either medication or psychotherapy, or with a combination of both. For many patients, EX/RP is the add-on treatment of choice when SRIs or SSRIs medication does not effectively treat OCD symptoms or vice versa for individuals who begin treatment with psychotherapy.

Other Treatment Options

In 2018, the FDA approved Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) as an adjunct in the treatment of OCD in adults.

NIMH is supporting research into other new treatment approaches for people whose OCD does not respond well to the usual therapies. These new approaches include combination and add-on (augmentation) treatments, as well as novel techniques such as deep brain stimulation. You can learn more about brain stimulation therapies on the NIMH website.

Finding Treatment

For general information on mental health and to locate treatment services in your area, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Treatment Referral Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). SAMHSA also has a Behavioral Health Treatment Locator on its website that can be searched by location. You can also visit the NIMH’s Help for Mental Illnesses page for more information and resources.

Join a Study

Clinical trials are research studies that look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases and conditions. The goal of clinical trials is to determine if a new test or treatment works and is safe. Although individuals may benefit from being part of a clinical trial, participants should be aware that the primary purpose of a clinical trial is to gain new scientific knowledge so that others may be better helped in the future.

Researchers at NIMH and around the country conduct many studies with patients and healthy volunteers. We have new and better treatment options today because of what clinical trials uncovered years ago. Be part of tomorrow’s medical breakthroughs. Talk to your health care provider about clinical trials, their benefits and risks, and whether one is right for you.

To learn more or find a study, visit:

  • NIMH’s Clinical Trials webpage: Information about participating in clinical trials
  • Current Studies on OCD: List of clinical trials funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) being conducted across the country

Learn More

Free Booklets and Brochures

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: When Unwanted Thoughts Take Over: This brochure provides information on OCD including signs and symptoms, causes, and treatment options such as psychotherapy and medication. Also available en español.

Federal Resources

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (MedlinePlus – also en español)

Research and Statistics

  • Journal Articles: This webpage provides information on references and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine).
  • OCD Statistics: Adults: This webpage lists information on the prevalence of OCD among adults.

Last Reviewed: September 2022

Unless otherwise specified, NIMH information and publications are in the public domain and available for use free of charge. Citation of NIMH is appreciated. Please see our Citing NIMH Information and Publications page for more information.

5 strategies of behavior in a conflict situation

It is difficult to find two people with exactly the same tastes, habits or interests, therefore, in any long-term relationship between people, sooner or later disagreements, contradictions, conflict situations arise.
On the one hand, such situations can harm existing relationships, but on the other hand, it is the divergence of views and the existence of several opinions that can be a resource that enriches relationships and helps build trust and mutual understanding.
In order to constructively overcome existing conflicts, one must be aware of the various ways of behaving in a conflict and be able to choose the way of behavior that is most appropriate for a given situation. As a rule, a person in a conflict situation behaves in the only way that is familiar to him, and is not aware of the existence of other ways of behavior.

Psychologist K. Thomas classified all ways of behaving in a conflict according to two criteria: a person's desire to defend their own interests (assertiveness) and a person's desire to take into account the interests of another person (cooperation). Based on these criteria, K. Thomas identified five main ways of behaving in a conflict situation. For convenience, they can also be represented in the form of images of animals:

I Competition (competition) - "shark";

II Adaptation (settlement) - "teddy bear";

III Avoidance (avoidance) - "turtle";

IV Compromise - "fox";

V Cooperation - "owl".

Each of these modes of behavior has its pros and cons, may be appropriate for one life situation, but be completely inappropriate for others.

Every year, the college conducts testing to determine the leading ways of behavior in a conflict situation by K. Thomas.

Each student can find out his test results from the college psychologist in room 224.

Below are descriptions of the strategies identified by K. Thomas, supplemented by comments from various authors.

I Competition

Competition is a type of behavior in a conflict in which a person seeks to achieve the satisfaction of his interests to the detriment of the interests of another. A person who follows this strategy is sure that only one participant can emerge victorious from the conflict, and the victory of one participant inevitably means the defeat of the second. Such a person will insist on his own, no matter what, and the position of another person will not be taken into account.

Pros and cons of this strategy: stubbornly defending your interests to the detriment of the interests of another person can help a person temporarily hold up in a conflict situation. However, this approach is not applicable to long-term relationships (be it friendships, relationships with a loved one, in a family, at work, etc.). Long-term relationships can only be sustainable if the wishes and interests of all participants are taken into account, and the loss of one person, as a rule, means the loss of all. In a long-term relationship, only elements of competition are possible, provided that it is carried out fairly and according to predetermined rules and its results do not have a strong influence on the relationship between its participants. In this case, competition can help spice things up and get people more actively pursuing their goals.

In the form of an image, competition is a "shark" competition.

Such a strategy is characterized by a type of behavior that can be figuratively represented by the behavior of a shark at the time of the attack. This type of behavior is rigidly focused on winning, regardless of their own costs, which can be defined by the expression "rushing ahead." The preference for such behavior in a conflict is often explained by a subconscious desire to protect oneself from the pain caused by a sense of defeat, because. this strategy reflects a form of power struggle in which one side emerges as the clear winner. This strategy is necessary if a certain person, denounced by authority, must restore order for the sake of the general welfare. It is certainly justified if someone takes control into their own hands in order to protect people from violence or rash acts. However, the Shark's strategy of behavior rarely brings long-term results - the losing side may not support a decision made against its will, or even try to sabotage it. The one who lost today may refuse to cooperate tomorrow.

Tactical actions "Sharks":

strictly controls the actions of the enemy and his sources of information; constantly and deliberately puts pressure on the enemy by all available means; uses deceit, cunning, trying to seize the position; provokes the enemy to ill-conceived steps and mistakes; expresses unwillingness to enter into a dialogue, as he is sure that he is right, and this confidence turns into self-confidence. When confronted with this type of behavior in a conflict, one must remember that "Shark" is afraid when information is collected about her, and tries to block all information sources about herself, and also does not want and is afraid of an open discussion of the conflict problem, since she is not interested in it, for her, only her position is important. When entering into a conflict process, she prefers that others avoid or resolve conflicts.

Personal qualities: dominance, authoritarianism; intolerance for disagreement and dissent; focus on preserving what is; fear of innovations, ambiguous decisions; fear of criticism of one's style of behavior; using one's position with the chain of achieving power; ignoring collective opinions and assessments in decision-making in critical situations.

II Fixture

Adaptation is a way of behavior of a participant in a conflict in which he is ready to give up his interests and give in to another person in order to avoid confrontation. This position can be taken by people with low self-esteem who believe that their goals and interests should not be taken into account.
The pros and cons of this strategy: if the subject of the dispute is not so important, but it is more important to maintain a good relationship with another person, then giving in, letting him assert himself in this way may be the most appropriate behavior. But if the conflict is about important issues that affect the feelings of the participants in the dispute, then such a strategy cannot be called productive. Its result will be the negative emotions of the yielding side (anger, resentment, disappointment, etc.), and in the long term, the loss of trust, respect and understanding between the participants.

Adaptation in the form of an image - settling "teddy bear"

To illustrate this strategy of behavior in a conflict, the conditional name of a soft toy is given, which, without any effort on our part, gives us a feeling of warmth and softness. The conflict resolution strategy is aimed at the maximum in relationships and the minimum in comprehending personal chains. The basic principle of behavior: "Whatever you want - just let's live together." This is a setting for benevolence at the expense of one's own losses, the so-called "hide and seek", but, of course, to a certain limit, since the instinct of self-preservation is highly developed in all people. Often such a strategy is followed by altruists, sometimes outwardly, and sometimes out of conviction. The ratio of forces of opponents is important here. If the balance of forces is not in his favor and further struggle does not make sense, then there is a reorientation to the installation, the motto of which is: "I surrender to the mercy of the winner." A reconciliation strategy can be a smart move if a confrontation over a minor disagreement would be putting undue stress on the relationship at this stage, or if the other side is not ready for dialogue. There are times when you need to maintain good relations. Conflicts are sometimes resolved by themselves only due to the fact that we continue to maintain friendly relations. In the case of a serious conflict, the behavioral strategy of the "Teddy Bear" leads to the fact that the main controversial issues are not addressed and the conflict remains unresolved.
Teddy Bear tactical actions:

- constant conciliation with the requirements of the enemy, i.e. makes maximum concessions;
- constant demonstration of non-claim to victory or serious resistance;
- indulges the enemy, flatters.

Personal qualities:

- spinelessness - the lack of one's own opinion in difficult situations;
- the desire to please everyone, not offend anyone, so that there are no strife and clashes;
- follows the lead of the leaders of informal groups, his behavior is often manipulated;
- the tendency to be distracted when participating in a conversation prevails.

III Avoidance

Often people try to avoid discussing conflict issues and postponing difficult decisions “until later”. In this case, a person does not defend his own interests, but at the same time does not take into account the interests of others.
Pros and cons of this strategy: such a strategy can be useful either when the subject of the conflict is not very important (“If you cannot agree on which program to watch on TV, you can do something else,” writes American psychologist S. Covey), or when it is not necessary to maintain a long-term relationship with the other side of the conflict (if you think that the thing you need to buy in this store is too expensive, then you can go to another store). But in a long-term relationship, it is important to openly discuss all controversial issues, and avoiding existing difficulties only leads to the accumulation of dissatisfaction and tension.

In the form of an image, avoidance can be represented as a "turtle" avoidance.

This strategy of behavior can be compared with the behavior of a turtle, which, at the moment of danger, hides in its shell. The Turtles' tactical motto is "Leave me some and don't touch me." This is a passive-passive attitude of the victim, drawn into the conflict by circumstances. The position of the victim is attractive due to certain compensatory factors: the victim receives significant outside support; she has a lot of sympathy; she doesn't have to try to solve the problem herself. Behind the seeming helplessness, there may be a feeling that the problem is becoming more desirable and enjoyable than the risks and difficulties associated with its solution. If the victim faces violence or tangible loss, she may rate the risk associated with changing her situation as unacceptably high. The tragedy of this role and the inability to get out of it lies in the deep-rooted attitude of helplessness and inability to change the environment. What causes these settings? Victims learn how to be victims from other victims. Parents teach this to their children; authoritarian parents, teachers, leaders, and social systems intimidate people into accepting the role of victims. In some cases, over-cautious habits gradually lead people into the role of victim, as people refuse to go to change the situation or themselves, although with the right approach they could bring about positive changes relatively easily.
The Turtle's behavioral strategy may, however, be a completely reasonable step if the conflict does not affect the direct interests of the person or involvement in it does not affect his development. Such a step can also be useful if it draws attention to a running problem.

On the other hand, such behavior may push the adversary to overstate demands or retaliate instead of participating in a joint search for solutions, and may also lead to an exorbitant increase in the problem. Quite often, conflict avoidance is consciously or unconsciously used as a punishment to force the other side to change their attitude towards the conflict.

The behavior strategy of the "Turtle" leads to the fact that the true causes are driven inside and the conflict remains, it seems to shift to another plane, it becomes deeper and more complex.

An unresolved conflict is dangerous because it affects the subconscious and manifests itself in the growth of resistance in various areas, including diseases.

Tactical actions "Turtle":

- refuses to enter into a dialogue, using the tactics of demonstrative withdrawal; avoids the use of force; ignores all information from the enemy, does not trust the facts and does not collect them; denies the seriousness and acuteness of the conflict; systematically slows down in making decisions, always late, as he is afraid to make a reciprocal move. This is a situation of missed opportunities.
Personality traits: - shyness in dealing with people; - impatience for criticism; - accepting it as an attack on oneself personally; - indecision in critical situations, acts according to the principle: "Maybe it will cost"; inability to prevent chaos and pointlessness in the conversation.

IV Compromise

Compromise is the partial satisfaction of the interests of both sides of the conflict.
Pros and cons of this strategy: although the interests of all conflicting parties are taken into account in a compromise, and this outcome can be called fair, it must be remembered that in most cases - a compromise can only be considered as an intermediate stage in resolving the conflict before finding a solution in which both parties were would be completely satisfied.

In the form of an image, a compromise is a "fox".

This strategy is characterized by a type of fox behavior that combines caution and cunning. "Fox" operates on the principle: "I will give in a little if you are also ready to give in." Balance, balance and caution are the main attitudes of this type of behavior. For this strategy, both personal chains and relationships are equally significant. The desire to normalize relations in any case is the weak point of this strategy in the conflict with the Shark. The compromise strategy does not involve an analysis of the amount of information, the "Fox" tolerates an exchange of views, but feels uncomfortable, because. she does not have her own position, her behavior depends on concessions from the other side. Compromise requires certain negotiating skills so that each participant achieves something. This solution of the problem implies that some finite quantity is being divided, and that in the process of dividing it, the needs of all participants cannot be completely satisfied. Nevertheless, the division equally is often perceived as the fairest solution, and if the parties cannot increase the size of the thing being divided, the equal use of the available benefits is already an achievement. The disadvantages of the compromise strategy are that one side may, for example, increase its claims in order to appear magnanimous later, or give up its positions much earlier than the other. In such cases, neither party will stick to a solution that does not meet their needs. If a compromise has been reached without a thorough analysis of other possible solutions, it may not be the best way to resolve the conflict.
Tactical actions "Foxes": traded, likes people who know how to bargain;
uses deception, flattery to emphasize not very pronounced qualities in the enemy;
is focused on equality in the division, operates on the principle: "All sisters - for earrings."

Personal qualities:

- extreme caution in assessment, criticism, accusations, combined with openness. Such qualities are undoubtedly an element of the high culture of the individual; wary of critical assessments of other people; expectation of soft formulations, beautiful words; the desire to convince people not to express their thoughts too harshly and openly.

V Cooperation

When choosing this strategy, the participant seeks to resolve the conflict in such a way that everyone wins. He not only takes into account the position of the other participant, but also seeks to ensure that the other side is also satisfied.
The pros and cons of this strategy: the desire to listen to another person, understand his point of view, take into account his interests and find a solution in a controversial situation that suits all parties is necessary in any long-term relationship. This approach contributes to the development of mutual respect, understanding, trust, and thus makes the relationship stronger and more stable. If the subject of the dispute is important for both participants, this way of resolving the conflict can be perceived as the most constructive. Note that in many situations it can be very difficult to find a solution that suits both parties, especially if the opposite side is not in the mood for cooperation, in which case the process of resolving the conflict can be long and difficult.

In the form of an image, cooperation is an "owl".

This strategy of behavior in conflict can be conditionally given the name of a bird, to which people have long attributed such qualities as wisdom and common sense. "Owl" openly recognizes the conflict, presents its interests, expresses its position and offers ways out of the conflict. He expects reciprocal cooperation from the enemy. The main principle of this strategy: "Let's leave mutual insults, I prefer . .. And you?". The cooperation strategy is aimed at constructively resolving the conflict, that is, at working with the problem, not with the conflict. "Owl" does not accept avoidance tactics, as it respects the partner, it does not exploit the weaknesses of the "Turtle" and "Teddy Bear", because it seeks dialogue in solving the problem. In relation to the “Shark”, she also behaves honestly, opposing peaceful means and common sense to her. "Owl" is characterized by a setting to end the conflict due to its escalation, if necessary, it is inclined to the negotiation process, where it always has a fan of proposals-alternatives. When using the strategy of cooperation, the participants in the conflict become equal partners, not opponents who are interesting to each other as people with their own individualities. They are always interested not only in conflicting needs of each other, but also in their motivation. They strive for sincerity in relationships and maximum trust. Partners recognize their conflict, emphasizing a common basis for interaction, which can be even one desire to find a way out of the situation together. They do not engage in mutual skirmishes and accusations - in the interests of the case, emotions are discarded. While looking for joint solutions, partners may be interested in the history of the conflict, but this is not an end in itself. They soberly assess their capabilities and therefore are prone to mediation, and, if necessary, to the negotiation process.

Tactical actions of the "Owl":

- collects information about the conflict, about the essence of the problem, about the enemy;
- counts its own resources and the resources of the enemy to develop alternative proposals;
- discusses the conflict openly, is not afraid of disagreements, tries to objectify the conflict;
- if the opponent offers something sensible, reasonable, then it is accepted.
Personality traits:

- in any conflict, it is aimed at solving the problem, and not at blaming the individual;
- has a positive attitude towards innovations, changes;
- knows how to criticize without offending individuals, as they say, "on the case", based on facts;
- uses his abilities to achieve influence on people.

In what meaning do the authors of various tafseers interpret the 256th ayat of Surah “The Cow”: “There is no compulsion in religion. The straight path has already distinguished itself from delusion…”? - Answer archive

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Brief question

In what sense do the authors of various tafseers interpret the 256th ayat of Surah “The Cow”: “There is no compulsion in religion. The straight path has already distinguished itself from delusion…”?


In what sense do the authors of various tafseers interpret the 256th verse of Surah “The Cow”: “There is no compulsion in religion. The straight path has already distinguished itself from delusion…”?

Short answer

Having studied the works of the interpreters of the Holy Quran, who expressed different points of view regarding this verse, the following conclusion suggests itself. The most correct interpretation of the verse is that it contains a message to all mankind, saying that religion deals with the beliefs and heart of a person, therefore coercion and violence in religion is simply impossible. Man is free to choose his religion, and no one can force him to believe in what he does not want to believe. Such an interpretation of the verse gives a crushing rebuff to fatalists who claim that a person has no choice and self-determination in faith or unbelief, righteousness and sins, as well as in other deeds. At the same time, this and the next verse negate the beliefs of the supporters of the absolute independence of man, who believe that after the creation of man, Allah placed all the affairs of the universe at the disposal of man, and he himself departed from all affairs, and will not interfere in them until judgment day. The opinion of the supporters of the absolute independence of man is unacceptable for various reasons, one of which is indirectly mentioned in these verses. After all, the universe is based on divine traditions and laws, therefore, no phenomenon and no creature can get out of the power of the traditions of Allah.

In other words, it is impossible to force a person to accept faith, but at the same time it is impossible for him to go beyond the power of Allah and the laws of the universe established by Him. If people begin to believe, do righteous deeds and turn away from unbelief, then they do it of their own free will. The causal relationship established by Allah contributes to the fact that by their deeds they prepare the ground for further guidance on the true path, as a result of which divine traditions and laws lead them out of darkness into light. And vice versa. If people, despite clear and obvious arguments, turn away from faith and continue to stubbornly defend unbelief, then these same divine traditions and laws plunge them from light into darkness. Therefore, a person has freedom of choice and self-determination, but at the same time he is subject to divine laws. The 256th and 257th verses of Surah “The Cow” can be commented on by a hadith from the sinless Imams (peace be upon them) who said: “There is no compulsion and there is no absolute independence. The truth lies between them."

Detailed answer

The verse of Sura “The Cow” we are considering reads: “There is no compulsion in religion. The straight path has already distinguished itself from error. Whoever does not believe in taghut, but believes in Allah, he has grasped the most reliable handle, which will never break. Allah is Hearing, Knowing.”[1]

Before answering the question, we consider it necessary to analyze two, in our opinion, important points.

1. The lexical meaning of the words mentioned in the verse.

The word “coercion” (“iqrah” in Arabic) means to force someone to do something. And the word “straight path” (“rushd” in Arabic) means instruction, liberation, correction and perfection.[2] In contrast, the word "delusion" ("gay" in Arabic) means moving along the path of non-existence. [3] Allameh Tabatabaei wrote that "the straight path" means reaching the goal and the truth, while "delusion" has the opposite meaning.[4]

2. The opinion of the interpreters of the Koran.

Among the interpreters and commentators of the Holy Qur'an, there are five opinions regarding the meaning of the passage "There is no compulsion in religion":


2) If the holders of the book (ahl al-kitab) agree to pay tax in favor of Muslims, then after that they should not be forced to accept Islam.[6]

3) This verse refers to all disbelievers, but after the verse about the killing of the Gentiles[7] and the verse about jihad[8] was revealed, it was canceled.[9]]

4) This verse refers to a certain group of people in Medina.[10] It should be said that a certain group of the inhabitants of Medina was the reason for sending down this verse. Some tafseers say that one of the Medinan Muslims had a black slave, whom he tried to forcefully convert to the Islamic religion. And after that this verse was sent down.

5) A group of Qur'anic commentators are convinced that this verse was not revealed regarding any person or certain group of people. The verse contains a message to all mankind, saying that religion deals with the beliefs and heart of a person, therefore coercion and violence in religion is simply impossible. Man is free to choose his religion, and no one can force him to believe in what he does not want to believe. This interpretation is followed by many scientists in their writings, especially scientists of our time.[11]

In our opinion, the most correct interpretation of the 256th verse of Surah "The Cow" is the fifth opinion, which best reflects reality. The Holy Quran declares that religion is not accepted under duress, faith has nothing to do with the lack of self-determination, since the truth is obvious. The straight path is distinguished from error. The straight path is obvious, the error is also obvious, and a person is free to choose belief or disbelief. The one who wants to choose the path of faith will choose the path of faith, while the one who wants to choose unbelief chooses unbelief.

Also, considering this verse in the context of the previous and subsequent verses, one can extract the truth, which the immaculate imams from the prophetic family spoke about many times (peace be upon them). They said: “There is no coercion and there is no absolute independence. The truth lies between them.”[12] And this is true.

In the previous verse (255th verse of the surah "The Cow", which is called "ayat al-kursi"), a colorful description of monotheism and monotheism is given. This description is simple, but at the same time capacious in content. A sane person, whose thoughts and deeds do not contradict his original and pure nature, will easily perceive the truth contained in it. However, not all people are like that, there are those among them who think in the wrong direction, who do not have a correct idea of ​​\u200b\u200btrue monotheism. The 256th and 257th verses of this sura turn to them, once again trying to guide them on the true path.

Ayat gives a crushing rebuff to fatalists who claim that a person has no choice and self-determination in faith or unbelief, righteousness and sins, as well as in other deeds. For the opinion of the fatalists is far from the truth,[13] Allah Almighty is greater and more just than to force his slaves. At the same time, this and the next verse negate the beliefs of the supporters of the absolute independence of man, who believe that after the creation of man, Allah placed all the affairs of the universe at the disposal of man, and he himself departed from all affairs, and will not interfere in them until judgment day.

Abu Muslim and Kaffal (followers of the Mu'tazilite doctrine) spoke about the meaning of the verse "There is no compulsion in religion": such clear arguments of monotheism that no one has justifications and reason to object. For this reason, the unbeliever does not have any justification for his unbelief. And if he continues to be in disbelief, then only coercion remains the way to faith for him. However, the verse “there is no compulsion in religion” tells us that it is not necessary to force unbelievers to believe, since this world is an arena of trials and examination, and compulsion is contrary to trials and examination.”[14]

But verse 256 does not correspond to the interpretation given by the Mu'tazilites. After refuting the beliefs of the fatalists with the phrase “There is no compulsion in religion,” the verse continues: “The straight path has already distinguished itself from error. Whoever does not believe in taghut, but believes in Allah, he has grasped the most reliable handle, which will never break. Allah is Hearing, Knowing." The next (257th) verse contains an indication of the existence of immutable divine traditions and laws, therefore, no phenomenon and no creature can get out of the power of the laws of Allah. In other words, it is impossible to force a person to accept faith, but at the same time it is impossible for him to go beyond the power of Allah and the laws of the universe established by Him. If people begin to believe, do righteous deeds and turn away from unbelief, then they do it of their own free will. The causal relationship established by Allah contributes to the fact that by their deeds they prepare the ground for further guidance on the true path, as a result of which divine traditions and laws lead them out of darkness into light. And vice versa. If people, despite clear and obvious arguments, turn away from faith and continue to stubbornly defend unbelief, then these same divine traditions and laws plunge them from light into darkness. Therefore, a person has freedom of choice and self-determination, but at the same time he is subject to divine laws.

[1] Sura “The Cow”, verse 256.

[2] Qamus Quran, Sayyid Ali Akbar Kurshi, v.3 p.100.

[3] Ibid., v.5 p.131.

[4] Tafsir al-mizan, Allame Tabatabai, v.2 p.342.

[5] Majma al-bayan, Tabarsi, v.2 p.126; Tafsir Razi, Sheikh Abul-fath Razi, v.

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