How to Be Less Ob-com and Have a Little More Peace
A little wee bit of obsessiveness--a little tiny compulsiveness makes us responsible, competent adults. but cross into Ob-Com territory and it JUST sucks.
- •So obsessions are thoughts and fears you can't stop. Compulsions are actions you can't inhibit. When you try to stop these fears or behaviors it makes you terribly anxious and stressed out. Thinking the thoughts and compulsively acting feels bad but NOT as bad as not doing it at all
- •Obsessions are scary ass thoughts. Fears of hurting yourself or others-- fears of contamination --stress and anxiety when things are not lined up correctly, anxiety about door locks or stoves left on, anxiety about the loyalties of loved ones
- •Compulsions are routines and rituals that have to be performed like handwashing, counting, checking doors and stoves or compulsively asking for reassurance from others. Often the compulsion or ritual is to stop the obsession or to manage the anxiety
- •We think once upon a time obsessions and compulsions were necessary and important automatic programs in our nervous system that were important for survivalLots of animals have primitive programs, raccoons wash their food, birds patrol their nests,antelope compulsively are on the lookout for predators
- •In normal human brains, these thoughts and behaviors are generally inhibited by the frontal lobes. It is a simple failure of a feedback loop that causes the obsessions and compulsions to manifest.
- •If you have Ob-Com, you are not a broken person. You just have a feedback loop misfiring. A little SSRI, lexapro or Zoloft for example, helps enormously! You need a little serotonin to feed those thirsty frontal lobes!
- •A type of psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral treatment with exposure and response prevention (ERP) can really help!
- •OCD causes enormous pain and distress, but it is remarkably responsive to good therapy and good medication-- people don't have to suffer.
- •The most important thing to remember here is that this is just a normal evolutionary brain circuit from our primitive past that is no longer being inhibited by our newfangled brain. It is a bit of a glitch in the system.
- •It is also my clinical experience that people who suffer from OCD are some of the most amazing and creative people around. With great pain often goes great gain. Thank God for modern treatments and that we no longer blame OCD on bad potty training