OCD Treatment Teaches You How to Live with Uncertainty
I was at a training on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder last Friday and I wanted to share something interesting that the trainer said during his presentation. For those who are unfamiliar:
Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear, or worry, by repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing anxiety, or by a combination of such thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions).
The trainer mentioned that the biggest problem with OCD isn’t necessarily the obsessions or the compulsions, it’s the doubt. Patients with OCD are literally tortured by the doubt:
- doubt that their hands are clean
- doubt that won’t hurt a loved one
- doubt that they’ll go to hell (he brought it up, not me)
Apparently, patients with OCD demand absolute certainty. As you’d imagine, this is quite problematic because we can never be 100% certain about anything. Absolute safety is logically impossible to obtain. Patients turn to the compulsions to relieve themselves of uncertainty.
As such, the biggest goal of treatment is to teach patients to live with uncertainty and to take risks.
Healthy living is learning to live with the reality of uncertainty. There are no harm free solutions in life. Instead, we have to embrace risk!
Of all the potential treatments offered, the trainer noted that the gold standard treatment for OCD is exposure and response prevention therapy. It works on the concept of habituation, that the more you’re exposed to a stimulus, the more your body gets used to it and the less it responds to it. If you’ve ever gone swimming in a really cold pool and stopped noticing it was cold after a few minutes, you know what habituation is.
Patients are constantly overexposed to not only their obsessive thoughts, but also put in scenarios that act out their obsessive thoughts. Because exposure therapy relies on confronting risk and reality head on, reassurances and distractions are bad. In fact, in many instances, reassurance and distraction can be considered a compulsions when they are vain efforts to relieve the anxiety caused by doubt.
Again, the goal of treatment isn’t to make the obsessions go away, but to help the patient better live with uncertainty.
I know this may seem like comparing apples to skyscrapers, but I couldn’t help seeing the connections to religion.
As the trainer said: “Doubt is uncomfortable, but certainty is ridiculous”
- Covering childrens church today. Big mistake 2 years ago
- "I'm unworthy" is a dumb reason not to believe in #god. Don't you have to establish if god even exists first? 2 years ago
- Communion: ritual cannibalism FTW 2 years ago
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- 15 Things I Learned from Working with the Homeless
- The Churchgoing Atheist Stops Going to Church
- Robert Frost at the Start of Twilight: Eclipse
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- An Atheist’s Take on "Surprised by Joy", Chapters 7, 8 and 9
- People Just Want to be Validated
- Perception of Time Changes as You Age
- A Christian’s Take on “Stumbling on Happiness", Chapters 10 and 11
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