Friday, July 29, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
In a previous post Those D*** Unwanted Thoughts I indicated how your anxiety often is a result of your fear of your thoughts and sensations. Let's say that you are obsessive and you have the recurring thought, "Maybe I have cancer". But you don't. You've seen the doctor, she tells you that you are fine, you go home and begin thinking again, "Maybe she's wrong. Maybe I have cancer". Then you think, "The fact that I'm thinking that must mean that there is something to worry about. I need to know for sure. I need to do something." So you Google endlessly every possible cancer and expect to see your pretty face appear on the screen.
So what do you do when you have these unwanted intrusive thoughts? Do you shout at yourself, STOP? Do you try to get reassurance from someone, "Does this look like cancer to you?" Perhaps you pray for peace, or you have a drink, or you binge eat. Or maybe you ruminate, thinking over and over, "Why am I having these thoughts? Am I crazy?
Like ice cream, OCD comes in different flavors. This expressoin is a good metaphor for the idea that OCD can present as different symptom subsets. Some of these subsets are familiar to most people, but others are less common, and sometimes less recongizeable as OCD. Let's examine a few of these OCD flavors:
Washing, perhaps the most commonly known, is the vanilla of OCD. Obsessions have to do with becoming contaminated or in some way dirty from sources such as bodily fluids or chemicals, but even this most common of OCD flavors can have an unusual twist. So, for instance another person may be percieved as contaminated, not because of the sweat, urine, or microbes that might be on that person, but because that person is just who they are. The person with OCD might say: "If I come into contact with that person, something bad will happen," or "I will become that person," or "I will take on characteristics of that person." These obsessions result in the same kinds of avoidance and/or compulsive washing rituals as with the standard contamination fears