Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Banish Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

I have been asked to write something on OCD - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. But for the image, it was a vacuum cleaner that sprung to mind, since much of OCD behaviour is about cleaning, disinfecting or decontamination in general. For the most part, cognitive psychotherapy can sort this out very successfully. This works for a certain range but those with more serious conditions can become very ill. Christopher Bollas puts it well. "If you think your see signs of distress in me, put that thought away and replace it with the image of this activity I am carrying out now." This activity could be cleaning, hand washing, showering, hoovering, checking, locking up, hoarding ... or another of many things. But the activity could also be gambling, lying, hypochondria or anorexia. Compulsions are thought to be behavioural responses which alleviate tension or anxiety caused by the obsessive thought. The obsessive thought is likely to be an anxiety - perhaps about being harmed. A longer term analytical approach might ask what is it about themselves that the OCD affected person want to decontaminate? How does the compulsive action relate to the obsessive fear? What is being cleansed? Or in the case of an impulse disorder like gambling, what is it about the self that is being risked?