In popular culture, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD is frequently associated with repetitive hand-washing and fear of dirty door knobs. However, this is only a narrow view of what the disorder truly feels like. For instance, individuals with OCD have intrusive thoughts about harming others, even people whom they are closely related to. What they have is called “harm OCD.” People who have this kind of OCD have harmful thoughts and images, and as a result, they experience a huge amount of stress, anxiety and discomfort. These thoughts and images occur completely out of context regardless of the sufferer’s history and character.
This information sounds a tad different from the common stereotype, doesn’t it? There are a lot of things that people still do not know about OCD, so here are five truths that you need to learn for you to truly understand the disorder:
Truth #1: Obsessions are NOT “just worries.” They are more than that.
People without OCD can also have undesired thoughts. For example, while standing on the subway amongst a group of people, a person without OCD may wonder what would happen if he were to push the person beside him into the oncoming train? However, he dismisses the thought as “ridiculous” or “silly” and just laughs it away. A sufferer reacts differently.
When a sufferer has undesired thoughts, they grossly misinterpret it. They feel that they are a dangerous person and so they feel tremendous fear and anxiety which drives them to perform various compulsive habits.
Truth #2: Compulsive habits can be subtle.
Many think that OCD is characterized only by extreme compulsions like counting out loud, washing one’s hands until they bleed, cleaning a kitchen counter over and over again and other similar compulsive habits. But OCD can be very subtle. Most cases of OCD cannot be spotted by such kind of behaviors.
About 20 percent of OCD sufferers have Primarily Obsessional or Purely Obsessional OCD. This means, they only experience obsessions. According to a study conducted in the 1990s, psychologists discovered that individuals with this specific kind of OCD have compulsions that are unobservable. Typically, these sufferers have internal compulsions like repeating a certain mantra in their heads or avoidance behaviors such as eating out of most of the time to avoid cooking with knives. Psychologists explained that just because these sufferers do not have obvious compulsions doesn’t mean that they don’t have numerous internal compulsions.
Truth #3: Not all sufferers have compulsive habits related to cleanliness or organization.
While it is true that one third of OCD sufferers have conditions that are related to cleanliness or organization, according to psychologists, that portion is only a minority. It may be a significant minority but it does not paint a complete picture of OCD. Saying that people with OCD are neat freaks or germ freaks is overgeneralizing.
Other common obsessions and compulsions have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with cleanliness or organization. These compulsive habits include violence, self-harm, sexual deviancy, hoarding, religious beliefs and checking locks and appliances for safety.
Truth #4: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is more common than you think.
Up to 2.3 percent of the American population is affected by OCD. Some data also show that an estimated 25 percent of adults in the United States has experienced either obsessions or compulsions at some point in their lives. This means that millions of Americans may have experienced symptoms of OCD even if they do not meet the diagnostic criteria for it.
Truth #5: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder does not have a cure, it can only be treated effectively.
There is no medication or therapy that can cure OCD. However, it is highly treatable. Popular treatment options include exposure and response therapy, mindfulness-based therapies and medication. The first line of behavioral treatment is often exposure and response therapy. It allows the sufferer to overcome their unwanted thoughts by exposing them to situations and objects that trigger such thoughts.
Mindfulness-based therapies are a very powerful complementary intervention. When combined with exposure and response therapy, they can create lasting results. Basically, mindfulness-based therapies teach sufferers to respond impassively to their obsessive thoughts. It also trains them to be open and accepting of their unwanted thoughts despite the discomfort that it causes.
Hypnotherapy is one of the many mindfulness-based therapies that has helped a lot of sufferers over the years. It did not only help them to deal with their intrusive thoughts more effectively, but hypnosis also enabled individuals with OCD to release their compulsive habits.
Are you one of the millions of Americans struggling with OCD? Discover hypnosis today and experience its amazing benefits in your life. Give it a try by scheduling a free consultation, call 262-264-0214.