Tag Archives: Mental Obsessions
Click here to watch the Southern California OCD Affiliate’s 2nd annual conference 2 keynote addresses. The first is mine and discusses uncertainty and a number of primary mental obsessions. The second if Ethan Smith, a comedian, actor, spokesperson for the International OCD Foundation and generally a great guy.
Susan’s mental obsessions and religious concerns.
We actually have a sizable number of Orthodox Jews in our practice with a variety of religious concerns. You describe a few different problems with your OCD: words and images you have in your head that you don’t like; concerns about your own level of observance and how G-d may judge this; and finally how you will be judged by your peers. Each of these is a different feared consequence for the general concern about your religious practices. With mental obsessions, it is not the content of the thought that makes something an OCD problem — all thoughts, no matter how bizarre they may seem to you are normal. They become an OCD problem when you want to know what they mean or want to stop them. With you the goals would be twofold – helping you live with the thoughts (once you are able to live with them, they become less frequent and when they occur you would care less) and helping you to accept what you can’t know. In this second category, your neighbors say nothing about your level of observance, but it is true that some may be fine with it and some not. We can never please everyone. With regard to G-d, all of us could attempt to become saints and few do. Even the more observant in your neighborhood could always do more. Treatment would help you to accept that you can’t know the mind of G-d and that your goal would to trust in His judgement even if it went against you, because you’d like your faith to be strong enough to accept whatever He decides. Obviously this isn’t easy, but that is why treatment is necessary. It is likely that their are experienced OCD therapists where you live, especially in the major metropolitan areas (NYC, Washington, Chicago, LA). You can check with the International OCD Foundation to see if there are experienced OCD therapists in your area. Your other posts are thoughtful, but I wonder if they are a little bit compulsive in trying to assure/explain yourself to others.
It is true that many who don’t understand OCD have some difficulty with the idea of treatment. Part of the answer is to check out my blog about normal people don’t know what they are doing. The standards of what they actually think and do are not the same as the standards they claim to have.
The literature on violence/sex in the media as a cause of violence is a broad literature with pros, cons and qualifiers as to when this may or may not happen. There isn’t anything in that literature that alters our treatment.
In reading my book, your statement that exposure will reduce anxiety is not the entire story. The primary goal of exposure in the treatment of OCD is to learn to live with uncertainty. Thus, you are accidentally undermining your treatment, because you want to be sure that you will not engage in any violent or improper sexual behavior. That is, you want to be reassured. Treatment and life are a risk. How do I know that I won’t slice and dice my wife tonight? I don’t have a plan to do so, but one doesn’t plan on going crazy. There is no way I can be sure she is safe. I could stay away from her, but then what is the point of human contact? Or I can do what everyone does without realizing it. I can go to bed, hope it won’t happen and if it does, I will be stuck coping with it. My life will be ruined, I will feel guilty, book sales will go down and even with this I will have to find a way to go on. No one has any other choice, but for most people, they are willing to take the risk. You are trying to avoid the risk and have correctly assumed that even treatment could make you worse. It isn’t where I would bet my money, but it is possible. The reason to do treatment is because of all the options you have to make life better this one is the best bet. No guarantees other than it is wiser to bet on the higher probabilities.