Break Out of OCD's Mental Prison

This week is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) week.  OCD is an anxiety disorder which cause people to pursue often repetitive and pointless acts in an obsessive way.

Obsessions, also known as intrusive thoughts, seem to appear in our minds in  a random fashion.  They can be thoughts in words but they can also be images or urges.  For example, someone might become convinced that things touched in the normal course of life are contaminated with dangerous germs, leading to repeated hand-washing.  There may be the believe that one has left the house without locking doors, resulting in repeated and time-consuming checking. A route to work or the shops may have to be followed in precisely the “right” way, without stepping on cracks in the pavement, and if that is not possible then the whole journey must be repeated.

The behaviour caused by these obsessions is “necessary” (in the mind of the sufferer) because he or she believes it will neutralise dangers.

Another type of compulsion, less obvious to others, involves “correcting” thoughts that the suffered believes are dangerous.  For example, someone with OCD might deliberately bring up a positive thought after having a negative thought, thereby removing the danger.

In short, people carry out these and similar compulsive behaviours to prevent imagined harm and reduce their levels of discomfort. But such behaviour can become all-consuming and dominate a sufferer's life to the point that he or she is unable to live normally. People with OCD tend to have an overwhelming feeling that they alone are responsible for any hard that might come to them.  “Preventing” such harm can become a huge burden.
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A number of research studies have shown that everyone has intrusive thoughts, but this becomes full-blown and disabling OCD in only a minority. The good news is that although OCD can be a powerful force in a sufferer's life,  it is treatable through talking therapy.

If you suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, seek help from a qualified counselling psychologist or therapist.  Eventually you will accept that disaster will not ensure if we do not  check those locks a dozen times, wash our hands repeatedly or go through complicated thought rituals.

When an OCD sufferer finally accepts that their fate is not subject to irrational and whimsical thoughts, the sense of freedom gained can be truly remarkable. If you don't know where to find such help, talk to your doctor, who should be able to refer you to a therapist.


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