OCD - CAN YOU KNOW TOO MUCH?

Posted by Phil Cardenas on Oct 01, 2013

by Janet Singer
 

When someone is diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, education is essential. Understanding what the disorder entails and how to best treat it are key components to recovery. The more we know, the better prepared we will be to fight it, right? Well, not always. As we know, OCD can be very sneaky, and sometimes this quest for knowledge can go awry.

In this excellent post written by Stacey Kuhl Wochner, LCSW, Ms.Wochner explains that sometimes OCD sufferers (many who have had previous success with Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy) begin to feel that therapy is not helping as much as it used to. Why isn’t it working? Maybe they aren’t doing it right? Maybe they don’t truly understand everything about their OCD and treatment and need to learn more? What is happening is the uncertainty about keeping OCD in check has become an obsession. Sufferers believe they will never be able to beat OCD; their lives will be horrible.

So these OCD sufferers then fervently begin a quest to research, learn and discuss everything there is to know about every aspect of OCD. If they just keep educating themselves, maybe they’ll find that magic bullet, that secret that will lead them back to good health. Ms. Wochner calls this “the solving compulsion.” While sufferers might even attempt to engage in ERP therapy, they are doing it for the wrong reasons. Exposures now become compulsions, a way to reduce anxiety, instead of the anxiety provoking act they are intended to be. Once again, the insidiousness of obsessive-compulsive disorder reveals itself.

If you’ve been reading the above and nodding your head in recognition, what can you do? How can you deal with this type of OCD?  The good news is that while OCD can be tricky, the path to recovery is straightforward. As always, you need to learn to live with uncertainty. In this particular case, the problem is not that you are having these thoughts about not being in control or not knowing enough about OCD, the problem is trying to rid yourself of these thoughts. You need to accept the thoughts, feel the uncertainty about your OCD, and refrain from engaging in these “solving rituals.” By doing this, you will be undertaking ERP Therapy in the right way and for the right reasons. This will be anxiety provoking at first (which of course means you are doing it right) but eventually your OCD will lose its power.

When we are diagnosed with any illness, the first step is usually to learn everything we can about it. As we can see, when the illness we are dealing with is OCD, this sometimes leads to problems. This is just one of the many reasons why it is crucial to find a therapist who truly understands obsessive-compulsive disorder and how to treat it. Unfortunately, my guess is there are plenty of health care providers out there who deal with patients with solving rituals and don’t even realize it. Therapy sessions with these providers will likely hurt, not help, these OCD sufferers. Beyond OCD is a wonderful resource and can assist you in finding appropriate help.

There is no question OCD can become quite complicated, but it’s never so complicated that it can’t be outsmarted. If you’re armed with a competent therapist and a willingness to face and accept the uncertainty of life, you absolutely can beat OCD.

Janet Singer is an advocate for OCD awareness, with the goal of spreading the word that OCD, no matter how severe, is treatable. Six years ago, her son Dan suffered from OCD so debilitating he could not even eat. Today, thanks to Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy, he is a college graduate, working in his chosen field, and living his life to the fullest. Janet, who uses a pseudonym to protect her son's privacy, is the author of Overcoming OCD: A Journey to Recovery which will be published in January 2015 by Rowman & Littlefield. She writes regularly for Psychcentral.com as well as Mentalhelp.net, and is the former blogger for Beyond OCD. She has been published on many mental health web sites and has been an invited speaker at OCD conferences. She started her own blog, ocdtalk (www.ocdtalk.wordpress.com) in 2010 and it currently reaches readers in 154 countries. 

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