Self-Directed Treatment for OCD: The Irony of Doing the Opposite
I remember a movie in which one of the characters went around asking people to define the word "irony." Although most of them seemed to know what it meant, they were unable to put it into words. Not until the end of the movie did one of them give the definition. I'm reminded of this because the continuation and elimination of OCD symptoms are perfect examples of irony or the occurrence of outcomes that are opposite to those that were intended. You have probably been steering clear of triggers for your obsessions and doing compulsions after contact with those you couldn't avoid. Ironically, instead of lessening your distress, what you have been doing is sustaining or even worsening your condition. To get out of this quagmire, you have to start doing the opposite of your strategy up until now. This means deliberately making contact with the triggers while refraining from doing compulsions. With enough exposure to the triggers, and for sufficient periods of time, you will notice that they become powerless to provoke distress, and the absence of distress eliminates the need for compulsions. See what I mean about OCD and irony? Exposure, ritual prevention, and awareness exercises are used to achieve this.
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