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Saffie

OCD as a symptom of other issues?

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Nature or nurture or the interaction between the two has been a long standing debate since the foundation of psychiatry. That is why the classifications of mental disorders, such as DSM, nowadays does not attempt to indicate cause in its classification.

The earliest DSM did. It used the conceptual armoury of Freudianism. This changed when Freud fell out of fashion and the publication of a sociological study Being Sane in Insane Places about how easily it was to be classified as mentally ill. Things change. As did the DSM.

At least in the days of the sociological study could find shelter, albeit not ideal in mental hospitals. Nowadays many people with mental problems are on the street and the police unwittingly have to intervene as indicated recently by the Commissor of the Metropolitan Police.

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I just realised I replied to this the other day but hadn't seen a page of replies lol.

In terms of this being obsessive, I get that some people will fall into that if they have OCD, but this is not something I analyze. It's something I've had insight on that has helped change the way I see things, and open up more possibilities. I'm not sitting analyzing root causes because that would be ridiculous and fruitless.

What I'm saying is that, there are often underlying factors and we can become aware of these through therapy/life experience/whatever, and then we need to acknowledge them in conjunction with the OCD symptoms. For years I was simply told 'you have OCD, you need medication', as if it was some disease you are born with. As I've gotten a bit older I've seen quite clearly that I'm not fundamentally just someone with OCD, it's one part of a larger picture. Seeing that bigger picture is pretty transformative in itself. OCD has paled a fair bit in comparison to what psychiatric drugs have done to me, I had zero OCD issues for 2 years and nowadays even when it flares up I don't spend hours online checking like I would have when I was younger. I credit that massively to having insight into the bigger picture of myself and the habitual patterns I've been running off since childhood, many of which I was able to alter automatically just by being aware of them.

So while I'm aware I may have some predisposition to OCD flare ups, that's all it is. There's plenty of things that contributed to it reaching the severity it did in my early 20's, but it wasn't OCD as such that was the problem. I'd become so focused on that and my 'identity' as an OCD sufferer that I sort of missed the point. Addressing underlying issues does not mean we necessarily 'cure' the OCD, but it can open up much more possibilities and make for deeper healing. Of course, there's no cure in the sense that there's no cure for the human condition, which is essentially varying forms of suffering, but I feel that people can have much fuller and free-er lives if they are able to see more of the parts that are fueling OCD behaviours. I hope that makes sense.

I also totally agree about the not having a stable sense of self being a huge part of this fuel...appreciate those links posted, I'll have a read.

I don't necessarily believe my lack of sense of self came from simply external factors, again, there's probably a number of things at play. One part of me knows very well that we all have our own individual karma (I believe from countless previous incarnations), so there is no 'one cause'. Yet this doesn't negate another part of me that feels it's important to not just look at the 'surface disorder'. There's always more to heal and we can go as deep as we like with that, given it's done in a healthy, integrated, gradual way. If someone finds benefit from CBT alone and they are happy with their quality of level, then great. Others may want to go further with their healing, it's totally individual and neither is better or worse than the other really.

About the past life regression - there were a number of things that became clear from them, I won't go into it all here. But I was able to understand why I'm playing this role in this life a bit more, why I chose it on some level, and what mistakes I don't want to make again, such as taking on too much responsibility for others. It didn't cure anything and I didn't expect it to, but it was a positive experience overall.

Great discussion anyway, lots of info that I can't process all at once right now lol. But my instinct has always been that balancing approaches works best, somehow meeting somewhere in the middle. Nature/nurture, brain abnormality/environmental etc etc. From the input here I think it's very individual, but that in many cases becoming aware of our other 'stuff' is an important part of treatment.

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On 08/12/2018 at 06:04, Caramoole said:

I think you could apply the same to someone that sufferers from panic disorder or phobias (my original point).  They are feeling anxious for no known reason, they have had it explained dozens of times that there is no reason for fear,  they've had the anxiety spiral explained, they know about breathing, logically they know what to do.....and yet they can't do it.  You are very lucky if you can apply simple reasoning or just say to yourself "Oh, don't worry".......many are bound by this anxiety and fear for decades regardless of applying logic.

Yes, but there is also evidence that sufferers of phobia and panic disorders may have underlying biological vulnerabilities as well, just like OCD.

And I wish I was lucky enough that simple reasoning like "Oh, don't worry" would work, but thats the problem, it DOESNT work that way.  If it did I wouldn't have suffered as long as I did, none of us would.  If the problem with OCD was talking ourselves into an anxiety spiral we should be easily able to break that cycle with "Oh don't worry".  So why is it so hard, nay, impossible to use logic and reason to debate ourselves out of OCD?  If there is some underlying biological flaw, if our brain is not working quite right, if the gear is stuck so to speak, then it makes sense.  Then it all falls in to place, the reason we don't respond to normal logic is simple, we CANT respond to normal logic.  So we have to work around it.

 

On 08/12/2018 at 06:04, Caramoole said:

Sometimes but not always.  It very much depends on the area of, and extent of the damage.  Sometimes the effects of the stroke are irreversible.  

Sure, but thats not really the point of the comparison, the point is to highlight that we can use behavioral therapy to resolve a problem with an underlying physical/biological/nuerological cause.  A functional problem in our brains can be handled through behavioral means, just like we see with OCD.
 

On 08/12/2018 at 06:04, Caramoole said:

I don't think blame comes into it, of course it's not our fault that we suffer from OCD whatever the cause.  It's not someone's fault that they suffer from an anxiety condition, they aren't to blame, they aren't weak.

I agree they are not to blame and its not because they are weak, but thats because I believe OCD isn't caused by our behavior.  If OCD is purely behavioral that no longer becomes the case.  If OCD is merely our own inability to respond to anxiety well, thats our own choices and actions at work, no?

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On 07/12/2018 at 23:42, gingerbreadgirl said:

All good points dksea :) sorry I don't think I am totally convinced though by the evidence right now. You have definitely given me food for thought though x

No worries!  From a sufferers standpoint I think this is all largely academic, the most important part is doing what we can to get better, and whatever the root source of OCD we know whats most effective at the moment (CBT or CBT with medication).

I would suggest looking in to the twin studies.  The significantly higher incidence of OCD among identical twins vs. fraternal twins is pretty strong evidence that there is something biological going on at the root of OCD.

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6 hours ago, Saffie said:

What I'm saying is that, there are often underlying factors and we can become aware of these through therapy/life experience/whatever, and then we need to acknowledge them in conjunction with the OCD symptoms. For years I was simply told 'you have OCD, you need medication', as if it was some disease you are born with. As I've gotten a bit older I've seen quite clearly that I'm not fundamentally just someone with OCD, it's one part of a larger picture. Seeing that bigger picture is pretty transformative in itself. OCD has paled a fair bit in comparison to what psychiatric drugs have done to me, I had zero OCD issues for 2 years and nowadays even when it flares up I don't spend hours online checking like I would have when I was younger. I credit that massively to having insight into the bigger picture of myself and the habitual patterns I've been running off since childhood, many of which I was able to alter automatically just by being aware of them.

So while I'm aware I may have some predisposition to OCD flare ups, that's all it is. There's plenty of things that contributed to it reaching the severity it did in my early 20's, but it wasn't OCD as such that was the problem. I'd become so focused on that and my 'identity' as an OCD sufferer that I sort of missed the point. Addressing underlying issues does not mean we necessarily 'cure' the OCD, but it can open up much more possibilities and make for deeper healing.

I agree with this completely.  While we may have a biological predisposition to OCD, we can definitely experience things in our life, either from outside forces or our own actions that inflame our OCD and make it worse.  I've also seen the difference therapy can make when treating OCD rather than just using medicine alone with little/no CBT support.  Its definitely important to take a holistic view and address areas like stress and lifestyle because they can have a big impact on our mental well being and wish I had learned those lessons younger as well.  Thanks for sharing your own experience its a good reminder of that.

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7 minutes ago, dksea said:

From a sufferers standpoint I think this is all largely academic, the most important part is doing what we can to get better, and whatever the root source of OCD we know whats most effective at the moment (CBT or CBT with medication).

Absolutely. We do know what will help us overcome the OCD we have. 

Why we have it is best left to scientists and medics to sort out. That is what my therapists told me, and it makes sense. 

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That is why the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorder does not indicate cause in this day and age. Because the experts do not agree. There are numerous schools of psychiatry and psychology - phenomenological, cognitive, social materialist, biological but to name a few. There is no consensus. And indeed the Clinical Division of the British Psychology does not believe in the current diagnostic system which includes OCD. See their Power, Meaning and Threat publication. Discussed elsewhere on this site. 

Edited by Angst

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On 09/12/2018 at 20:02, Orwell1984 said:

I hope this is my last incarnation. I really could not be bothered doing all of this again 

haha me too!! I'd say I'm in for a few more incarnations, but it would be nice if this was the last one...I'm tired lol.

On 10/12/2018 at 00:00, dksea said:

I agree with this completely.  While we may have a biological predisposition to OCD, we can definitely experience things in our life, either from outside forces or our own actions that inflame our OCD and make it worse.  I've also seen the difference therapy can make when treating OCD rather than just using medicine alone with little/no CBT support.  Its definitely important to take a holistic view and address areas like stress and lifestyle because they can have a big impact on our mental well being and wish I had learned those lessons younger as well.  Thanks for sharing your own experience its a good reminder of that.

Totally, and you're very welcome. I never really treated my OCD while on medication, it kept me sufficiently numbed that I just managed it and avoided it better. Ultimately though, I've had to come back to the real work of treatment. And it does make a huge difference all round. I too wish I knew then some of the things I know now, but I guess that's what age is for...and there's plenty more to learn I'd say! :)

Thanks everyone for contributing to this discussion, I know I'm a bit late responding. Good to contemplate (non-obsessively!) ;)

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I did the same thing. Went on medication, even feelt a little bit better, keept on doing the compulsions and it got worse. Then I ended up just taking medications because I didn't want to horrendous withdrawl-symptoms.

 

Therapy is a MUST if someone wants to overcome OCD, with our without medication!

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This is a really interesting thread, I think I know some of the key events that caused or ignited by OCD from childhood and other events from the last few years that have made it worse. I think the reason CBT didn't work for me is that I needed to sort out these other issues first. CBT is too short to delve into all the issues from the past. I am now doing psychotherapy and then will hopefully go back to the CBT when I have dealt with the other things. I can see that CBT can work well in some cases but not in all. My OCD has been with me for as long as I can remember and I think I used it as a way to deal with traumatic events that I didn't know how to process. This all came up for me in CBT and I had a really hard time. Just to let you know you're not alone with this. I don't think I have faulty thoughts that need re structuring as mine are based on things that have actually happened that scared me. There are many forms of OCD and there's not always a method that works for everyone. Sometimes a combination of methods is the best way forward.

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33 minutes ago, Olivia 1234 said:

There are many forms of OCD and there's not always a method that works for everyone. Sometimes a combination of methods is the best way forward.

I agree. 

I had four of the fifteen types of negative dysfunctional thinking, OCD with checking harm and magical thinking themes, plus - in episodes - constantly -recurring repetitive words /phrases that simply couldn't be stopped. 

The way to stop the latter proved to be a combination of love kindness meditation, refocusing and mindfulness. 

CBT worked well for the others. 

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