• Quote of the Day
    "Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life;
    not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens."
    Kahlil Gibran, posted by David Baxter

Daniel

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Mindfulness and Feelings of Emptiness :acrobat:

There are many psychological disorders in which the feeling of emptiness generally presents itself as a transitory symptom (e.g., eating disorders,obsessive compulsive disorders, PTSD, schizophrenia) or as a rather stable phenomenological condition (personality disorders). Describing all these disorders is beyond the scope of this chapter, so we will limit the following discussion to pathologies where the feeling of emptiness often appears to be a central and recurrent experience of the pathology...
 

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Existential OCD is characterized by the preoccupation with philosophical questions related to life and existence. For example, someone with existential OCD might experience intrusive thoughts centered on the meaning of life, the universe, and/or their human existence. They might experience frequent doubt about their perceptions of reality. Someone with existential OCD might also experience recurrent feelings of depersonalization and derealization, which only exacerbate their doubts about their experiences of reality. They might also frequently question the purpose of life.

As with other presentations of OCD, it is helpful to look beyond the content of the obsessions and consider more the relationship between their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Just as someone with religious scrupulosity might appear to be an extremely devout follower of their faith, someone with existential OCD might appear to be a “deep thinker.” In fact, there is a whole field devoted to figuring out the meaning of life, and yet, not every philosopher has existential OCD.

So, what’s the difference?

The meaning one makes of their thoughts, the urgent distress one feels because of their thoughts, and the behaviors that follow this distress, is what separates people with OCD from those with a genuine interest in existential inquiries.

Commonly, individuals with existential OCD experience an urgency to arrive at some sort of answer to these unanswerable questions. The lack of conclusion causes anguish for these individuals, which detracts from their ability to engage in their lives in a fulfilling and meaningful way. For example, while spending time with loved ones, these individuals might be stuck in a vortex of questioning if their loved ones are actually real. They might be questioning if they are actually present or if their perceptions of reality are wrong. Or, they might be trying to figure out what the meaning of these interactions are if there is no actual definitive meaning to life at all. These are just some examples of the way existential OCD might present in people’s lives.

This sort of anguished search for meaning is not to be confused with the sense of ruminative hopelessness and meaninglessness that is common among people with depression, nor is it the equivalent to the type of endless sense of worrying germane to Generalized Anxiety Disorder. What distinguishes existential obsessions from the aforementioned experiences is the presence of compulsions.

Common compulsions for individuals with existential OCD include mental checking/testing to gauge if one feels in touch with reality, ruminating in hopes that “this time” they will find the answers, and excessive research and reading of philosophical and scientifics texts. Conversely, some may engage in avoidance of anything related to this topic, such as movies about simulations and videos about the universe, space, or the meaning of life. Individuals with existential OCD commonly also seek reassurance from others by asking them for their answers to their obsessive questions or asking them how they perceive reality...

Unfortunately, as is common for many people with OCD, many individuals may end up in traditional talk therapy before they land in the right treatment...Even purely cognitive approaches, like the use of thought challenging and cognitive reframing, reinforce the idea that the individual in treatment sincerely needs to pay these thoughts any mind at all...
 
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Daniel

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"When I was first told about OCD, I was told that these thoughts are called intrusives. But I actually heard the word invasives for some reason. And that is what it's like for me. It's like there's an invasive weed that just spreads out of control. You know, it starts out with one little thought and then slowly that becomes the only thought that you're able to have, the thought that you're constantly either forced to have or trying desperately to distract yourself from."

~ John Green
 

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According to terror management theory (TMT) neuroticism is primarily caused by insufficient anxiety buffers against unconscious death anxiety.[32] These buffers consist of:

  1. Cultural worldviews that impart life with a sense of enduring meaning, such as social continuity beyond one's death, future legacy and afterlife beliefs, and

  2. A sense of personal value, or the self-esteem in the cultural worldview context, an enduring sense of meaning.

While TMT agrees with standard evolutionary psychology accounts that the roots of neuroticism in Homo sapiens or its ancestors are likely in adaptive sensitivities to negative outcomes, it posits that once Homo sapiens achieved a higher level of self-awareness, neuroticism increased enormously, becoming largely a spandrel, a non-adaptive byproduct of our adaptive intelligence...
 
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“While caution is a useful instinct, we lose many opportunities and much of the adventure of life if we fail to support the curious explorer within us.”

“If you want resurrection, you must have crucifixion. The hoarder—the one in us that wants to keep, to hold on—must be killed.”

~ Joseph Campbell
 

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The authors investigated the effectiveness of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) for the treatment of death anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) with eight adult women in Iran. The ACT protocol was conducted in weekly solo sessions with each participant for 8 weeks (45 minutes each). The results were analyzed by visual analysis method and improvement percentage. ACT resulted in a 60%-80% decrease in death anxiety and a 51%-60% decrease in obsessive-compulsive symptoms, thereby indicating promise for ACT as a treatment for OCD and death anxiety.
 

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“Because what if instead of a story told in consecutive order, life is a cacophony of moments we never leave? What if the most traumatic or the most beautiful experiences we have trap us in a kind of feedback loop, where at least some part of our minds remains obsessed, even as our bodies move on?”

“Someone had told her once that mothers existed to blunt the existential loneliness of being a person. If that was true then her biggest maternal responsibility was simply companionship. You bring a child into this fractious, chaotic world out of the heat of your womb, and then spend the next ten years walking beside them while they figure out how to be a person.”

“You need hope to form a thought. It takes--I don't know--optimism to speak, to engage in conversation. Because really, what's the point of all this communicating? What difference does it really make what we say to each other? Or what we do, for that matter?”

"And James was a believer in mystery. Not like his mum, who never met a phantasmagorical ideology she didn’t embrace instantly and completely, but in the manner of Albert Einstein, who once said, “Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.”

Noah Hawley, Before the Fall
 
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Existential Concerns in OCD with Aggressive and Sexual Obsessions

Previous research has highlighted the potential role of existential concerns (ECs) in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). However, empirical research has thus far only demonstrated the role of one existential issue in this disorder: namely, death anxiety.

The present study explored the relationships between OCD symptoms and five ECs: Death anxiety, meaninglessness, isolation, identity, and guilt. In particular, the associations between these concerns and sexual and aggressive obsessions were examined...

As hypothesised, death anxiety was significantly associated with aggressive obsessions, but not with sexual obsessions.
 
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Existential rage is an untenable, despairing, and acute flooding of one's inner defenses in response to feeling a lack of ontological status, meaninglessness to life, or lack of agency, signifying intense upset and displeasure with these or related existential concerns in one's life.


Angst is often thought to refer merely to fear or anxiety. Interestingly “Angst” comes from the German root “angust” which is also the term for anger. This implies that anxiety and anger both compose the duality of emotions related to death.


We may even feel guilty of having found ourselves in a position where our own values or safety are under threat. What did we do that another would need to threaten or attack us? Avoidant behaviour will seem a safer bet.
 
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