OCD is a shape-shifter. Its content often changes, especially with primarily internal obsessions and compulsions (involving thoughts about harm, sexual orientation, and relationships). For many with the disorder, addressing the ever changing obtrusive thoughts is like playing Whack-a-Mole.
The internet is full of articles about “hOCD,”(OCD about sexual orientation), “rOCD,” (OCD about the “rightness” of a relationship) and “Pure O” (obsessions in the absence of compulsions) OCD. Although these designations can be appealing if you’re trying to make sense of distressing thoughts, I find this alphabet-soup approach to OCD problematic for several reasons.
Addressing the form OCD takes is important only in designing a treatment plan for ERP (Exposure/Response Prevention). To keep the OCD from becoming a pattern in which one obsession dissipates only to have another pop up, focus on accepting uncertainty.
Here’s how to begin the process of response-prevention:
1) Refrain from checking and analyzing.
2)Acknowledge that OCD is causing you to doubt yourself and that no amount of research will help you arrive at an answer you’ll believe.
3)Don’t try to categorize your OCD.
4)Give up trying to figure out if your fears are justified.
5)Stop seeking advice from internet forums.
Taking these steps will start you on the path to recovery and keep the moles from lying in wait to ambush you.
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