The statement by Van Gogh can be true for anyone that learns how to defy OCD. It can be done! It’s not easy but it’s possible! Anxiety, guilt, and doubt are the prevalent feelings experienced by OCD sufferers. They have difficulty tolerating these emotions. When individuals are triggered and begin to obsess, they become overwhelmed by their feelings and will do whatever it takes to avoid feeling that way. For instance, James had fears of emotional contamination. He’d rather avoid certain friends than take the chance of experiencing a panic attack. Linda had fears of losing her faith and would stay away from triggers that produced anxiety, guilt, and uncertainty. Roy was worried about being near anyone that may carry an infectious dise
[View original article published in Psych Central here] Megan felt miserable. She and her family had relocated in the middle of the school year to another city. She was missing her friends and changes were difficult for her. It seemed the problems began one morning when she was getting ready for school. While washing her hair, she thought she had swallowed some of the shampoo. She wondered if it was toxic. She worried she’d get sick and die. She rinsed her mouth incessantly until she felt safe. “Is it poisonous?” she would ask her mom, every day before taking a shower. Her mom would reassure her that it was harmless. But Megan wasn’t satisfied with the answer. She couldn’t take a chance and took safety measures each time. Soon, her worries
[View original article published in Psych Central here] Chuck said he wasn’t sure if he really loved his fiancée. Yes, there were times, when he was certain he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. But lately, the doubts were constant and he thought he should break the engagement. The wedding was two weeks away. He had experienced obsessive-compulsive disorder challenges since he was a teenager. He had mistakenly learned to deal with the symptoms by rationalizing and neutralizing his thoughts, thus he didn’t think his doubts about his fiancée had anything to do with OCD. Experiencing the jitters and cold feet can be a normal reaction to this significant milestone. So, was it a big deal? On the phone he informed me his family had in
Rick was eighteen when he came in for his first session. His main goal was to learn ways to get rid of his “bad” thoughts and the anxiety and guilt that accompanied those obsessions. “They are torturing me,” he said. We reviewed the OCD cycle and learned the necessary steps to start interrupting it. Rick knew the triggers that caused his obsessive thoughts and how they brought excruciating anxiety and guilt. He was surprised to learn that his singing, praying, and reciting were compulsions that were reinforcing the OCD cycle. He mistakenly believed that compulsions were supposed to be “weird” or silly behaviors. He found out that anything he did to find relief was actually a compulsion. He said, “Sometimes I analyze my thoughts and t
An Update from the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health): Exposure / Ritual Prevention Therapy Boosts Antidepressant Treatment of OCD This is another study that confirms Exposure and Ritual Prevention (a specific form of cognitive behavior therapy) makes a significant difference in treating OCD. Read the article here.
[View original article published in Psych Central here] Patty was feeling frustrated and depressed. No matter what she tried, she felt she was stuck. As a young child, she remembers she would come unglued if anyone walked in her room and messed up her belongings. She would arrange and rearrange things until they felt just right. When going to school, she remembered asking her mom if her hair looked perfect. Her mom would say, “You look beautiful!” Patty didn’t believe her. She would ask her mom to fix it better, or she would try to do it herself until it felt right. She wanted to be the best at everything she tried, but when things didn’t go as she expected, sadness and depression ensued. Her all-or-nothing thinking was getting in the way
Ron was on the verge of tears as he asked me, “Do other people with OCD have violent and aggressive thoughts? He refused to tell me what his thoughts were on the first session. I told him he didn’t have to talk about it yet if he didn’t want to. However, I reminded him that if he wanted the right kind of treatment, he would need to tell me about the thoughts that were distressing him. He said he had not been able to find much literature regarding OCD and violent thoughts. He said that what he had found was so minimal that he believed he was unique with his particular obsessions. He held a book in his hands and said, “I bought this book that talks about all types of OCD, and there are only two pages with the topic of violent thoughts.
Brené Brown’s presentation resonates with me in many ways. As I hear her words while wearing my OCD therapist hat, I believe individuals struggling with OCD could benefit greatly from her perspective. These are some of the points I’d like to emphasize: 1. She talks about the shame people experience because they believe they may not “be good enough.” They fear that if others see their true selves, they won’t be worthy of connection. –In my practice, I help my clients who may be experiencing this shame and fear. They have often formed negative core beliefs. I help them identify them and work through them so their treatment can be successful. 2. In her research she found that “whole-hearted people” have a strong sense of courage to be imperf
When my young clients’ parents and adult clients wish to go the extra mile, they ask for book recommendations. Here is my list: Children’s Books: 1. Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes. This book has been one of my client’s favorites Wemberly is a little mouse that worries about everything. My client adults, teens and children smile as they read it because they can totally identify with Wemberly. 2. My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss, Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. I use this book to introduce the topic of feelings. Children know Dr. Seuss books and enjoy seeing the pictures of various animals illustrating different feelings. This is a great book to emphasize it’s normal to have different feelings. 3. I Love You