• Quote of the Day
    "Don't let what you can't do interfere with what you can do."
    John Wooden, posted by David Baxter
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I was thinking today while I was loading the dishwasher how I used to be compulsive about it. Everything, spoons, forks, knives, had to be a certain way and how now it's just kind of thrown in there. Somehow along the way I gave up that compulsion without even realizing it, but new ones have taken its place, such as curtain straightening and this thing about pillows and so many other obsessions and compulsions.

Is this common with OCD, that the obsessions and compulsions kind of mutate or change? This is why I'm wondering if I even have OCD because it doesn't seem like the worry focuses on any one particular thing over a long period of time. If that makes any sense? The compulsion to harm myself remains about the same though.

I hope this makes sense.
 

Daniel

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Is this common with OCD, that the obsessions and compulsions kind of mutate or change?

Yes, at least that was the case with me. That's also what made it difficult because once I got enough reassurance about one thing, something else could bother me.

BTW, as discussed in the book Man, Interrupted: Welcome to the Bizare World of OCD, Where Once More is Never Enough, when the author with OCD checks into the psych facility for rehabilitation, the staff skillfully refuses to provide reassurance since the patient needs to learn to live with uncertainty/doubt.
 

David Baxter

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Yes. It's very common. It's one of my objections to the accepted wisdom of using response prevention strategies for treating OCD. You eliminate one ritual but, unless you deal with what's actually driving the rituals, another will pop up to take its place.
 
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So basically, you have to learn to tolerate distress in a healthy way. Or something like that.
 

David Baxter

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Not so much tolerate it... but understand it and demystify it. There's no magic to your OCD thoughts. Everybody worries. People with OCD worry in an obsessive way. And they often ascribe magical or predictive properties to the obsessive thoughts - "If I'm worrying about this, it mist mean that it's going to hapopen". But they are really just worries - nothing more.
 
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And if you don't worry about something, then you worry that you're not worrying about it. And on and on.
 

Peanut

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It's one of my objections to the accepted wisdom of using response prevention strategies for treating OCD. You eliminate one ritual but, unless you deal with what's actually driving the rituals, another will pop up to take its place

I would agree with that, but at the same time I think that sometimes using that behaviroal strategy and taking the first step of preventing the ritual can sometimes lead to the initial realization that there are no magical powers behind the thinking.
 
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It sounds like I'm in the wrong type of therapy then. Or we're going about all of this wrong. :(
 
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No, it's all wrong. Or I'm doing it all wrong. I could never bring that up in therapy.
 

Peanut

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Janet,

I'm a little confused, but maybe if you felt like it you could say more about what type of therapy you are in? Are you doing ERP and you feel that it's not working?

Also, I think if you just talked to your therapist in terms of your original post, he may be able to help you deal with it. You might not have to come to him with a solution of what needs to be done differently, that's his job, to think of what he can do to help you.
 
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What are you trying to protect yourself from, Janet?

Pain. I think. The truth about where the pain comes from and the anxiety that the truth causes.

What we do in therapy is something like this. He says there are four steps I need to go through. Identify that I'm having an obsessive thought, write it down, then there are two more, something about distracting myself and I can't remember the other one because I never get that far. But mostly we've been waiting for medication to work. It's a long, hard process.
 

Peanut

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I will read that book, thanks for the rec. I found a great website on it, it sounded actually like it could be similar to what Janet is describing.

Anyway Janet, nobody expects you to know how to "do" therapy...I don't think anyone really knows how to do it (the clients at least, hopefully the therapist knows). You could think of it in terms of learning any new skill, when someone is first learning something they seldom start right off doing it perfectly without errors. Success takes perseverance. That's just kind of how life goes for all of us...it's a learning process, we're all falling down and getting up again and struggling through it. Just keep trying. It sound like you've made a lot of progress, you already know some of the steps, so keep going girl, you'll get the rest of them down eventually. I know you can do it.
 

lammers1980

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I would strongly agree that obsessions and compulsions do change over time. I find that obsessions usually revolve around the thing you fear most at any given time. This inevitably changes according to the current circumstances in your life. In the past, I worried excessively about AIDS. I can now say this was because I was afraid of "accidentally" catching it, then passing it to my wife, who would then pass it to my infant son through her breastmilk. This was my worst fear because it revolved around the idea of me harming my entire family. Lately I have been worried about the security of my close relationships, especially with my wife. I can see that this was the result of the loss of a friendship with a person whom I thought was a good friend. This loss, coupled with a number of other difficult experiences happening around the same time, caused me to worry that my relationship with my wife was in danger. In this case, the obsession was not of harming my family, but of being abandonned by my family.
 

David Baxter

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I find that obsessions usually revolve around the thing you fear most at any given time. This inevitably changes according to the current circumstances in your life.

Exactly.

To understand OCD, you must understand, first, that it is an anxiety disorder and, second, that it is characterized by a specific form of expressing that anxiety - I call it "OCD worrying".

Everyone worries about things (well, everyone who's not a psychopath). What we worry about changes over time depending on what's happening in our lives at any given time.

It isn't any different fundamentally for people with OCD.
 

lammers1980

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One of the things I find with OCD is that when a "new" obsession starts, the illness seems much worse. I sort of have to retrain myself to recognise that what is bothering me is a manifestation of the OCD and not something real. I find myself perversely wishing I had the "old" obsession back because it was familiar and easier to recognise. With time, familiarity develops with the new obsession, but it can take me months to come to grips with a relapse. To think I have probably wasted most of my waking adult life stuck in mental feedback loops. Seems such a waste.
 

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