OCD: Let's go deeper!

Recently there has been a lot of talk about OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) in the media and it seems that more people suffer from it then is generally known. OCD has a lot to do with intense anxiety and a lack of self-confidence and can manifest itself. For example through intrusive 'bad' or fearful thoughts that something terrible might happen to the sufferers themselves or others; the compulsion to clean or tidy up all the time or to wash themselves incessantly because of a fear of contamination through germs, or the compulsion to perform rituals like checking a certain number of times that the cooker is switched off or the door is locked.

Also hoarding is a manifestation of OCD, if certain things are not done in 'the right way', there might be disastrous consequences. OCD can be extremely debilitating; it can deeply affect relationships, school, work and social life.

There are many causes for OCD, anything that causes deep inner insecurity like growing up with violence and unpredictability, or over-protectiveness or neglect. Also, bereavement for example can cause OCD in the form of intense fears of illness or death. Any serious trauma can be the cause. But attempts to control intrusive thoughts and fears often doesn't work because the root of the problem is not addressed. Often it's not enough to try and change certain behaviours or ways of thinking; a deeper approach is needed to achieve lasting change.

I don't really believe that forcing yourself to do the things that scare you most (like not cleaning all the time, or not checking the door lock repeatedly, or allowing germs on your skin) will make a real difference in the long run if the deeper insecurities and anxieties are not addressed. If they are addressed, then OCD might just start to soften or even disappear, almost as a side effect of the deeper work.

It's as if a terrified little child would live inside an OCD sufferer, and if that child in there doesn't get the reassurance it needs, it might just give up one kind of obsessive or compulsive behaviour and replace it with a different one. This extremely anxious part of a person is looking for protection or some control in order to avert disaster; hence the rituals. But real protection can't be found on the outside; this work needs to be done on the inside, so that anxiety and fear can start to be replaced with trust and confidence.

This can happen quite quickly for some people; for others it might take a while. If OCD seriously interferes with your life, get help! Life doesn't need to be like this!

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Bath, Somerset, BA1 5TH
Written by Judith Schuepfer-Griffin, Registered MBACP, BA Hons
Bath, Somerset, BA1 5TH

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