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Lynne S. Gots, Ph.D.
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The “Reality” of Real-Life OCD

By Lynne Gots, posted on November 23rd, 2019.

Most people turn to the Internet for information when a physical or psychological problem worries them, but people with OCD find its allures particularly irresistible. Seeking reassurance by doing research and comparing their symptoms to others’ is one of the most common compulsions.

The need to find comfort in numbers has led to a proliferation of on-line communities for “subtypes” of OCD, such as harm OCD, relationship OCD,  “pure O,” and now, one I’ve only recently discovered, “real-life” OCD. In a previous post, I discussed why breaking OCD into categories based on content is misleading and possibly even counter-therapeutic. When treating OCD, I stress the irrelevance of content. OCD often changes its focus from one theme to another but all its many manifestations share a common underlying cognitive feature: intolerance of uncertainty.

Discussions about so-called “real-life” OCD imply that obsessions about events that actually happened, rather than about future-oriented, hypothetical possibilities, are somehow more valid. Such logic has all the earmarks of an OCD trap!

Is “real-life” OCD real? Is it different from other forms of OCD? Does it require another treatent approach?

The answers are in my blog post for the Anxiety and Depression Disorders Association.

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Posted in Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder |

2 thoughts on “The “Reality” of Real-Life OCD

  1. Margie

    I did something very stupid to someone I love during a manic moment. They were not physically harmed but more embarrassed. They have forgiven me but I cannot forgive myself. Will ERP therapy help me? Will I be stuck thinking about this for the rest of my life? Thank you,

    • lgots

      Hi Margie,
      ERP might be helpful, but I’d also recommend mindful self-compassion as a way to work on forgiving yourself. I can’t say if you’ll always be thinking about this painful incident but you can learn to detach from the thoughts so they don’t trouble you as much.

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