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Creative Cat

Question for Sinclair and anyone else

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Hi Everyone!

Hope you all had a nice holiday! My husband and I traveled to London after Christmas (we're from U.S) and had a very nice time seeing all of the famous sites there in London. I had never been there before and had a nice time (of course, Ocd traveled along with me as our "third" companion) but I won't go into that :)

(Sinclair, If you're reading I would love to know what you think of this!)

I am curious about what anyone thinks of this -- do you think that perhaps OCD is a defense mechanism for dealing with our uncomfortable feelings? Feelings that either we are afraid of like anger, guilt or that we do not know how to deal with? And, perhaps, could ocd fears be a projection of negative feelings that we don't want to deal with? For example -- could a feared object such as cleaning products actually represent something I really fear such as some bitterness or unforgiveness or fear of my anger -- and I seek to control the object as a substitute for dealing with my feelings???

any thoughts anyone? I have been thinking about this this week and for myself wonder if the ocd keeps me so distracted that I don't deal with regular life and my feelings. I know that ocd is not classified as an "addiction", but sometimes I wonder if it is a sort of addiction to cleaning, checking, fear -- as a way of not dealing with anger, guilt, rejection, bitterness - whatever.

Marie

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Guest Dennis912

Hi Marie,

Dennis here! I'm from New York Myself (you said you were from the states)

Anyway, My theropist says that ocd is a defense of the mind - meaning that

there is something that your mind is focusing on one thing to avoid another

Dennis..

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Hi Dennis,

thanks so much for your response! Yes, it really does seem that way to me. I'm going to go to a support group tonight which is a 12 step group from my church. You don't have to be an addict to go, so I thought maybe it will help me because I have not been able to find a support group for ocd in particular in my area that fits with my schedule. The leader said that basically they'll be talking about how to deal with feelings and grow in maturity -- sounds okay to me -- I'll at least check it out....

One thing that the group leader mentioned is the lengths that people will go to in order to avoid dealing with or feeling their feelings - like workaholism, etc. i think that the ocd keeps me so busy in my mind or in life (cleaning things) that it really does crowd out my ability to deal with feelings. OCD seems to be "all about control" to me. I'm always trying to control something -- I wonder if I am really trying to control something internal and all of these "outer" methods of ocd is a dysfunctional way of doing so! Something that I learned long ago in my family of origin, but that no longer suits me or my life!

Marie

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Guest Milou

Hi ... hope you enjoyed London. I've lived here 8 years and still feel like an excited tourist sometimes!

I think my symptoms (which I think are OCD) are a response to not feeling in control of my life. They get worse when I'm stressed or worried, and mostly revolve around the feeling that I can't make someone else happy because it's beyond my power. So I compensate.

It also is a way with dealing with feelings that are difficult to actually confront, like fear about the future.

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Hi ... hope you enjoyed London. I've lived here 8 years and still feel like an excited tourist sometimes!

I think my symptoms (which I think are OCD) are a response to not feeling in control of my life. They get worse when I'm stressed or worried, and mostly revolve around the feeling that I can't make someone else happy because it's beyond my power. So I compensate.

It also is a way with dealing with feelings that are difficult to actually confront, like fear about the future.

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I have just left London after 5 years.... great place to visit but not sure I enjoyed living there...... Then again I was in a naff area.

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Guest scorpius

I'd be very reluctant to think of OCD in terms of defence mechanisms. I know the psychodynamic approach is popular with US based therapists, but I don't think it is so helpful in OCD. The most effective form of therapy is cognitive/behavioural, which doesn't try to explain OCD symptoms in terms of your past experiences, it just tries to stop them using the most practical methods possible.

I think OCD is increasingly being seen as a neuropsychiatric illness ie one which is due to specific abnormalities in parts of the brain. There is evidence for this eg OCD like symptoms associated with rheumatic fever after streptococcal throat infections (Syndenham's chorea), and in children the PANDAS syndrome, again due to streptococcal infection. Antibodies to Streptococcus pyogenes can cross-react with and damage nerve cells in parts of the brain, causing the disruptions to thinking patterns that manifest as OCD.

There's also evidence for a genetic predisposition to OCD, and even a specific OCD gene where mutations can cause particularly bad forms of OCD.

Making people endlessly go over their past in a search for possible psychodynamic causes for their OCD can be counterproductive and upsetting. Who wants to go to therapy knowing they'll feel worse after the session?

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Hi,

Thanks for the input. Yes, we did enjoy London but if we went back we would like to see the countryside which I've heard is beautiful and stay in a small town for a more "British" experience compared to a "big city" experience.

Marie

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Guest Hypnosinc

You've raised a very interesting point, Marie, but frankly it is 2am here, and I don't think that I could give you an answer right now that would do justice to the question. So if you'll bear with me, I'll come back to it in a few hours.

Considering that 95% of Americans seem to claim direct descendancy from the Irish, how come you didn't make it over here? We've got small towns coming out of our ears. In fact our capital city is barely the size of Adobe Flats, New Mexico on a wet Whit weekend. :lol2:

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Hey there,

Interesting thread. Although I have to say Im with scorpious on this one. I have had the 'gay' thread of ocd it has been on of my most prominent types and a real killer, when I here things like this it starts me thinking that I must be and am just hiding it makes me try and dig in my past to find reasons etc...very very unnerving!!!

SAffa

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This subject is something I have given some thought to also recently.

I am well aware of research and schools of thought regarding the medical causes of OCD, and if they can provode conclusive evidence then perhaps I might be swayed.

In the meantime, however, I've spent the best part of ten years in the care of clinical psychologists doing practical CBT exercises, with them telling me that the reasons I have OCD in the first place are "irrelevant". I went along with this, until I found that I just wasn't getting anywhere, and there were issues from being a child and growing up, that I just wasn't getting a chance to address, niggling away at me, hindering my ability to break through and start to recover.

More recently I have seen a cognitive anylitical therapist, and have spent several months just talking about things that upset and damaged and hurt me as I was growing up, and I have also seen patterns of behaviour and thought from when I was a very young child (my OCD started when I was eight, or maybe earlier) that seemingly arose to protect myself from a very frightening and unpredictable home life. My rituals supported me when no one/nothing else did and gave me structure when I was amongst emotional chaos.

At this point in time I cannot accept that my OCD is purely medical and has NO connection with how I grew up and when and how my OCD started.

Also, this clarity of my situation is the one thing that has allowed me to go back to the same practical, CBT exercises and work through them methodically, exactly the same as I did a year ago, but with a greater sense of purpose, and a greater success rate.

I would still agree then, that CBT/exposure therapy (with or without medication as necessary) is the best PRACTICAL way to challenge and overcome OCD rituals and thoughts, BUT I feel the patient has got to be emotionally READY to tackle these, and this might mean looking somewhat at your recent or distant past to face unresolved issues.

This may not be the same for everyone, so I am not necessarily advocating this path per se, but for the first time in MY life I feel that I understand myself a little better, and I really feel like I am recovering.

I agree that there probably are a combination of factors contributing towards a person having OCD, including upbringing, a natural or genetic predisposition, and possibly brain chemistry (lower levels of Serotonin - though the medics don't seem to know why yet).

One thing I have learnt is that human beings NEED rituals (NOT OCD-type rituals, general rituals). They are not just symbolic, they can give meaning and clarity to our lives. The modern (western) world is increasingly devoid of rituals, be it relgious or cultural, and I believe people have become more disperate and life more chaotic. No wonder so many people are clawing for some control in their lives, be it through OCD or other imposed routines and structures; or by blocking life out with drugs or alcohol, or irrational material gain or mindless hours infront of mindless television. These are all distraction tecniques aswell, because the fact is, life is hard for EVERYONE.

When I have thought about waking up one morning without OCD, and how I would cope without it, I have looked around at "normal" people without OCD, and wondered how they cope with life. I have discovered the anwser is that a lot of people DON'T! They just muddle through the best they can.

If we want to recover from OCD, at this time I belive it is unrealistic to think we can just eliminate it from our lives without replacing it with anything. I believe we could replace these behaviours with POSITIVE rituals and structure in our lives, and yes, that may mean that we have to face feelings and issues our OCD has conveniently been distracting us from, but I for one do NOT want to spend my life running away from problems, I want to feel strong enough and secure enough to handle them face on.

I should stop here, otherwise I could go on for hours!

Rebecca*

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Hi Sinclair, Saffa and Rebecca,

Thanks for your responses! We actually wanted to go to Ireland, but didn't think this would be the best time of year (with rain) to be driving around in a rental car. We knew that we would have a lot of driving to see everything. Whereas London was more central and we took the subway everywhere which worked out for us better in the winter. I actually am 25% Irish (my grandmother was from Ireland (Cork County) so I would definitely like to visit someday. I'm part English too - my grandfather was English. We also took the Eurostar train to Paris for one day and that was absolutely fantastic! I completely recommend it and it was so fun!! Paris is beautiful (my first time there too!) Its amazing that you can go from London to Paris in only 2 hours!

Thanks so much Rebecca for your great insight. Perhaps I can email you and we can talk further? It seems that this discussion is triggering for some people which I don't want to upset so maybe it would be better to talk by email.

Sinlair, I look forward to your insight.

Thanks again!

Marie

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Guest Jimbo

Hi all,

Scorpius, I'd be very intrested to know your source for the following information. It does make good reading but is somethng I've never come across. I would like to read some more into this.

I think OCD is increasingly being seen as a neuropsychiatric illness ie one which is due to specific abnormalities in parts of the brain.  There is evidence for this eg OCD like symptoms associated with rheumatic fever after streptococcal throat infections (Syndenham's chorea), and in children the PANDAS syndrome, again due to streptococcal infection.  Antibodies to Streptococcus pyogenes can cross-react with and damage nerve cells in parts of the brain, causing the disruptions to thinking patterns that manifest as OCD.

27111[/snapback]

I dissagree with Rebecca that OCD has no medical connection and is based solely on nuture but agree that CBT is the best way to treat the rituals cumpulsions and irrational fears. Once the rituals etc have been reduced alternative methods must be sought to control how you respond in the future. Again I agree that most people do just muddle through life. I think some people can cope better than others. Some people also have much better circumstances or lower expectations so maybe this has something to do with it.

However I think it is dangerous to dismiss out of hand a possible concept for what could be one contributing factor. If the case was proven that a course of antibiotics would have prevented anyone from ever developing OCD isn't that avenue worth exploring? I for one would like to know more. I've never heard of this theory before so it's worth reading up about.

Cheers

Jimbo.

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Guest scorpius

Hi Rebecca, I hear what you say. I think someone's OCD is going to be made worse if they have unresolved issues from their past that are causing anxiety and depression. In that respect, if you can address these issues with a deeper form of psychotherapy I can understand why that would help.

Nevertheless, not everyone with OCD has had such experiences - it also happens to people who've had an entirely happy childhood and life experiences.

Hi Jimbo - it is interesting isn't it? There's a lot of information on the www.ocdcentre.com website to start with. I haven't looked at it in detail yet but what I understand the theory to be is as follows:

Some people would inherit a gene or several genes that code for abnormal proteins that appear on the surface of certain types of neurons. These neurons would be part of the circuit that controls obsessive-compulsive type thinking.

During a streptococcal throat infection, antibodies to bacterial proteins are produced, but these antibodies also (purely by chance) recognize and attack the proteins on the above neurons, damaging them. This causes the disruption to thinking manifesting as OCD.

The damage would appear to be reversible though, and this might explain why some people's OCD comes in episodes, with recovery in between them.

One treatment would involve removing the antibodies - apparently this has been tried with some success using plasmapheresis (a bit like dialysis for kidney failure).

PANDAS is a proposed form of post-streptococcal OCD seen in children (paediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcus).

To research this properly, I think you'd have to also do an epidemiological study with a large group of OCD sufferers. Each time they get a sore throat, you'd screen them for Strep pyogenes infection (thoat swab + ASO titres, PCR etc). Then, you'd see whether there was a statistically significant link between infection and OCD exacerbations. After that, perhaps you could isolate a sub-group of sufferers who are infection-linked and do DNA profiling to identify abnormal gene(s) that could be responsible. I'm not sure whether some of this has been done already.

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I am glad that this topic has arisen - our son was born in Africa and lived most of his early childhood in hot climates.

From a very early ge it was noted that he had a very high white cell count and whilst we lived in the caribbean it was discovered that he had high aso levels just as scorpius mentioned - our son showed signs of OCD at about 3 yrs old and we were told that he needed to take antibiotics daily until he was 18 to prevent him developing rheumatic fever. We didn't agree with doing this and stopped the antibiotics after a year.

I am convinced that there is a link between the strep and his OCD. Our son's OCD took hold of his life this time last year - he was 13 yrs old - one year down the line he is doing remarkeably well but the OCD is still there - the difference is it doesn't rule his life. There has been quite a bit of research into PANDAS and the link with strep in the USA and I regularly read up about recent developments.

Additionally, in our son's case, there is a genetic link as I discovered that my father had/has OCD but seems to have it under control. (Not having had regular contact with him since I was a child I found this most interesting)

At the end of the day though - no matter what the cause - once OCD takes hold it is a matter of trying to combat, control and live with the disorder.

Pam

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Hi Marie,

Glad to hear you had a good time in London. Hope the weather was reasonable for you. London in the rain can be a bit soggy :) .

do you think that perhaps OCD is a defense mechanism for dealing with our uncomfortable feelings?  Feelings that either we are afraid of like anger, guilt or that we do not know how to deal with? 

27084[/snapback]

My psychologist is a NLP practitioner (neuro-linguistic programming - I think the P is for programming).

The NLP view is that every behaviour serves a positive function, as such the OCD acts in a protective way to stop difficult thoughts and feelings...

......the theory is something like that anyway.

I don't know whether there is anything in it.....my OCD was bad enough, I hate to think what it was protecting me from :thumbup:

I haven't read back all your other answers but I'm going to - I think it's a really interesting topic.

Take care

whitebeam

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Guest Learning2bCalm

I believe that all the routes to ocd have a part to play.

Regarding the psychological arguments, i'd add to these two more possiblities:

I think people with pure o can obsess about things that they cannot make sense of (this can be partly a normal phenomenon, people who've experienced disasters often repeat the event in their heads as they try to make sense of it or come to terms with it)

If there were an answer to the pure 'o's obsession they may stop obsessing ( i know that searching for the answer is regarded as the problem, but i've resolved a number of issues by finding answers for them......just that some of the issues just don't have answers) Again this doesn't have to be abnormal, it's whether it causes problems in a person's life. It's possible that Einstein and Darwin were obsessive and routed out answers to their questions.......so the 'normal' element of some of this needs to be recognised too.

I'm not saying there isn't a problem though, just bringing in some extra perspectives :thumbup:

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Guest Hypnosinc

Hi Marie,

First of all I am terribly sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you. For the last 10 days the level of work has increased dramatically over here following some extremely good publicity, and I know I'm just not going to be able to give as much time to the forum from now on.

However, having said I will reply properly to your question, I will do so now, to the best of my ability.

(Sinclair, If you're reading I would love to know what you think of this!)

I am curious about what anyone thinks of this -- do you think that perhaps OCD is a defense mechanism for dealing with our uncomfortable feelings? Feelings that either we are afraid of like anger, guilt or that we do not know how to deal with? And, perhaps, could OCD fears be a projection of negative feelings that we don't want to deal with? For example -- could a feared object such as cleaning products actually represent something I really fear such as some bitterness or unforgiveness or fear of my anger -- and I seek to control the object as a substitute for dealing with my feelings???

I can see what your reasoning is, but I don't feel it would be accurate to call the OCD itself a defense mechanism. Rather it is a by-product of innate feelings of under-confidence and low self-esteem. It is an outward show of such inner feelings but not especially the emotions you are describing. How and why these feelings arise in the first place is open to argument. What is indisputable is that these feelings create great anxiety about the sufferer's own personality, in particular how they might be perceived by other people. Struggling to come to terms with this, is what probably invokes the other feelings like guilt and anger etc.

The OCD "activities" can be seen more as a way of avoiding having to face the cause of the anxiety, and to ensure that the most feared outcomes can be side-stepped. I suppose you can regard that as some form of defence mechanism, but it's a defence against the OCD-induced thoughts. In reality, this is a false hope, because you can never avoid the anxiety by ducking it, it will always find another way through. The only way to counter-act it successfully, is by learning strategies to improve the self-image and boost the confidence. By doing that, you undermine the OCD. Indeed, this may be an easier approach for those who find discussing the actual OCD with a therapist far too overwhelming. They could perhaps go to a therapist initially for counselling on how to strengthen their positive self-beliefs, and use the power they gain through such insight as a way of challenging the OCD directly themselves. Of course, as the confidence grows, the fear of discussing the condition with an outsider will diminish, and sooner or later, help may be needed to tackle the outward show of the OCD, but it would then be a much less daunting task.

It may seem a little like the chicken and the egg. What comes first, the emotions you describe, or the OCD? I would say the OCD, however, that is not to suggest that those emotions cannot arise outside of the OCD. Patently they do. But personally, I believe the predisposition to OCD arises far earlier in life than the other emotions, especially if the OCD is genetic in origin. Feelings of anger and guilt are usually environmental in origin, and based on acquired experiences.

To sum up, OCD is probably not a defense mechanism in the way you describe, simply because, in all likelihood, the predisposition to the condition came first. Please accept that this only my viewpoint. There is still a lot of research to be done.

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