There is a piece in the NY Times of Oct 14, 2014 (see http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/10/13/o-c-d-a-disorder-that-cannot-be-ignored/) about the devilish OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) where people are so driven that they cannot stop washing their hands or stepping over cracks. It gets much worse than that. Not touching any object if anyone else has touched it. Not turning doorknobs or any handles once they have been touched. And the sufferer cannot stop and never knows what to do about it. Nor does the therapist who goes on year after year treating the symptoms and never asking herself if there are causes? It is like treat cancer year after year and never seeking out causes.
Come to think about it, it is pretty close to any compulsion, smoking, drinking, painkillers, etc. They are compelled to do it and can’t stop. An excessive fear of germs, is another example. So let me see: if you have to smoke you are not obsessive, but if you have to step over cracks, you are. What if they are the same? What if they are both ways of dealing with pain and fear? Would the treatment differ? Not according to the NY Times……proper medication seems to be the answer and then a bit of Behavioral Therapy. The article states that people do know they are obsessive but cannot stop themselves. What does that mean? I know. They ask, “Do you have thoughts that make you anxious?”
They claim that painkillers and tranquilizers work but most sufferers do not receive evidence- based medication. And then they need Behavioral Therapy. They claim that their psychotherapy can work even when done over the telephone.
And “The techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy has proved most effective”. The patient, they claim cannot change his behavior based on new information. Isn’t that the problem with nearly every neurosis? Sex addicts cannot change, nor can gamblers, nor can angry, violent people. Do they need to learn new behaviors? Yes, but only if we neglect causes; only if we mess around the edges and try to change the result of an imprint. What imprint? Why the one that is discussed in most scientific inquiries today. The one indicating that there are enduring imprints that dog us for a lifetime and change our symptoms and our behaviors, to say nothing of our personalities.
This newspaper article only deals with management of symptoms, and does not attack causes; so of course the therapy is necessarily limited. And can someone tell me what “evidenced-based therapy” is? The method is usually based on exposure therapy. Where you expose someone to a germ, putting a finger along a dirty wood plank, and help her not feel so anxious. “You see, there is nothing to be afraid of.” Oh, yes, I see, and yes there is---an experience when I born that was horrendous. It was imprinted. How about not stepping on cracks: does Behavioral therapy help? Well I don’t step on cracks anymore but I smoke more cigarettes per day.
It is not thoughts that create anxiety; it is the contrary, anxiety provokes thoughts.
So if they have it backwards can it work?
Can exposing someone to anxiety situations help them lose their fixation? Or if I talk to you and help you identify “unhealthy” thoughts can you get over them? Are the causes thoughts? Or are they way, way back in time to where anxiety is the primordial response to life endangering events? And that anxiety is not and never was an aberration but, rather, a normal response to danger. The person responded to this threat with deep brain processes. Namely terror, now called anxiety. It is called anxiety because the connection between the early event and its effects have disappeared. So we cannot see what causes primordial terror; therefore we name it anxiety. We name it for its concomitants; its basic reactions, shakiness, bubbling in the stomach, not its causes.
We are treating the wrong thing with the wrong brain, and we expect help? Yes we get help with the reactions where we either change them or detour them or deny them through “healthy” thoughts.
So the cure for them is to change how you see things. And basically, don’t look.
I have to repeat. There is a world of science out there that therapists ignore; and who suffers? Patients.