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What CBT Does - Simplistically

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OCD takes an inch and changes it into a mile. CBT examines that mile and, during therapy and the sufferer’s own hard work, turns the miles back into inches.



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It changes our perception of OCD intrusive thoughts to equate with that of a non-sufferer, who sees them as nothing more than worthless nonsense and dismisses them. 

And, as we work through the programme of therapy towards achieving that goal, those thoughts will also lose power, begin to stop creating disorder, become less frequent - until we no longer have them or, if we do, they can be gently eased away. 

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Thank you Andrea. 

Perhaps a prime example of the worthlessness of an OCD core belief plus resultant intrusive thoughts comes from my own "back catalogue" . 

Many years ago - I was probably about 28 and I am 68 now (and wasn't diagnosed with OCD until I was 50) I was in a Woolworths store (a chain discount store). 

Most of them had a very large human weighing machine, and periodically I would obtain a reading. 

I got on the scales and prepared to insert a coin. In doing so, a 10p piece fell out of my purse, and rolled under the nearby display cabinets. 

I shrugged - it would be impossible for me to recover it - and wrote it off and left the store. 

But later that day I experienced the thought that I had to go back to the store and ask the staff to shift the heavy display cabinets around to recover my coin, because it wouldn't just lay there inert - it could cause harm to others, or damage. 

I cringe now as I write this. Coins have laid around, and later been discovered, for thousands of years. And no suggestion of harm or damage having been caused by them. 

But back at the time, the "core belief" that my coin had to be recovered, otherwise it could cause harm (or damage) was overwhelming for a couple of days - and I had that overpowering compulsive urge to return to the shop and demand they recover my coin. 

So what happened? 

On the third day I came to my senses. I realised that that core belief (which I now understand was an OCD one) was complete and utter absolute nonsense. 

And the moment I realised and accepted that, I was - from that obsessional thinking - freed. The intrusive thoughts stopped, left me and I forgot about it. 

You can probably tell from this that what I later realise was OCD didn't have me in a vice-like grip then (it went on to much later on). 

And it will normally take sufferers much much longer, and more detailed CBT, to obtain the result I found then. 

But this little example shows how sharply focused, and devastating, OCD is. 

Edited by taurean

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Another example of the, to non-sufferers, worthless nonsense of OCD, which CBT will reveal on its way to producing recovery. 

My mindfulness-based CBT workbook for OCD, recommended to me by my therapist, had various chapters on individual common themes of OCD. 

Bearing in mind a number of current topic posters are contamination OCD sufferers, I cast my mind back to the chapter in the book on the contamination theme. 

It totally amazed me to read the enormous variety of "contaminants" that OCD can latch onto in a sufferer. 

But, if contamination OCD is so real, then why doesn't someone fearing blood - or vomit - or animal poo, also obsess about contamination from semen, cleaning chemicals, asbestos or whatever - other substances prominent in that very long list of OCD contaminants in my book? 

The answer is of course the proof that it is all just worthless nonsense to the non-sufferer and the sufferer from a different form of contamination OCD. 

But to get the sufferer from an individual substance of OCD to accept that, he and she - such is the power, and convincing, of OCD - have to go through and commit themselves to, a course of CBT therapy. 

If only we could rationalise it out in just a short space of time like that 28-year-old boy did so many years ago. 

Rationalise it simply like I ultimately did - without falling into an OCD cycle of obsessing and carrying out compulsions. 

Why we sufferers just cannot seem to do that is an interesting question? And perhaps it shows that as our exposure to OCD grows, layers of thinking distortions around it create a kind of "onion" of false, exaggerated or revulsive OCD beliefs that get more and more difficult to shift. 

Edited by taurean

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