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O.C.D. (Binah Magazine)

In order to understand O.C.D. you need need to simply understand the three words that make up its name the first being “O” which stands for obsessive. An obsession is a thought that is repetitive, which is the way our brain naturally intensifies emotion. We actually enjoy a lot of the times when we obsess about thoughts that make us feel excited or happy. Obsessions are totally normal. However we can also obsess about thoughts that drain us, make us anxious or depressed. There is also a form of obsessive thoughts that are intrusive, which are thoughts that we don’t want to have. The spectrum of intrusive thoughts are very broad, and can come in every genre, they can be benign, crazy, scary, inappropriate, or dangerous in nature and therefore can be very bothersome. As long as we are aware that they are thoughts, and anxious that we might act on them  or that they won’t ever stop, or that they keep us up at night or from concentrating on the task at hand they fit into this category. The “C” stands for compulsion; a compulsion is a behavior we do to turn off or mitigate an obsessive thought. Compulsions come in two forms; it can either be a safety behavior or avoidance behavior. An example of a safety behavior would be, if I obsess about contracting an illness or germs from touching people or things, I will wash my hands after touching, or shower to keep me safe and relieve me of my tormenting obsessional thoughts. An avoidance behavior for the fear of contracting illness or fear would be; that I avoid touching people or things, or I wear gloves in places that I feel have the likelihood to come in contact with germs or illness.  You need to recognize that all human beings have obsessions and compulsions, for example if you feel hunger (O) and eat to get relief(C); you miss your mother (O) and call her to get relief (C) and so on. O & C’s are totally normal and are necessary for normal function. The final letter is “D” which stands for disorder. A disorder when it comes to mental health disorders, broadly explained is: if the obsessions and compulsions interfere with functionality of love and work.  If you cannot function in relationships or it affects your daily living, then you very likely have O.C.D. and would greatly enhance the quality of your life by learning cognitive and behavioral skills (CBT) & your prognosis very likely is good, with Exposure & Response Prevention Therapy. To appreciate how it works you need to understand that all feeling diminish; they flow in a bell curve fashion. All feeling intensify and then naturally subside with time, if you allow them to flow freely. For example when one loses a loved one, the sadness intensifies during Shiva and then with time diminishes. The same is true for good emotions, when you get a promotion or a new item; it first intensifies and then diminishes. This hold true for fear as well, the first time a child goes to school they might be anxious however if they continue to go the fear diminishes. When you do a safety or avoidance behavior, you get in the way of the natural process, of the feeling getting stronger and diminishing. Every time you do a compulsion and stop the feeling from flowing, it builds up and becomes more undoable, and the feeling of being stuck and not able to get rid of the feeling causes anxiety and distress. Exposure therapy is confronting the feeling that has us stuck andresponse prevention is resisting the urge to do a safety or avoidance behavior and allowing the feeling to flow freely in a bell curve fashion, and free us from it being an obstacle for us. It is not uncommon for a mental health professional to recommend an O.C.D. sufferer, to be evaluated for medication. The regimen usually lasts several months and then the prescriber will taper the client off the medication. An analogy of the benefit would be having a tooth cavity treated with or without novocaine. The dentist can work more effectively & efficiently with the client on novocaine. Similarly the therapeutic process has being shown in studies to be more effective and efficient.  


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