Accepting/Embracing the bad Thoughts

1 January 2015 - 19:21

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I'm quite new to this forum. I've been trying to get to grips with my OCD for the past 2 years. Hard to say how much progress I've made(or if I have made any sometimes?), but I am in my 2nd round of CBT.

Something that has come up on the forum today, and has come up time and time again in books and on other forums, is this idea of not rejecting the thoughts; if you fight something it gives it more power; just let the thoughts be, accept them, dwell on them, embrace them; and apparently in doing so they lose their significance and associated anxiety, and presumably everything returns to normal.

I've got to say, that out of all the aspects of therapy, this one troubles me the most. For the obvious reasons - because OCD sufferers want to perform compulsions to put out that immediate fire and get a "hit" of short-term relief, and to begin with it feels very wrong not doing that. But I'm actually OK(well as OK as I'll ever be!) with the concept of not performing compulsions and I've made some significant in-roads with that in some areas. No, it's something else that doesn't sit right about it for me.

It seems to me that I have a problem with some of these doubts and thoughts for very good reason - because they are morally offensive to me, they are genuinely opposites, and that's why it feels so important to restate my position on them. And accepting them or embracing them feels morally irresponsible and very wrong on some level. e.g. do I really want to dwell on the thought of sexual intercourse with a child, a family member, etc? Do I really want to say "hey maybe I do want to hit mum over the head with that hammer?" and dwell on that for a while?

It feels like I am saying "yknow what, actually I don't care and it's ok if I'm into that after all". But the reality is that it is really is not OK if I am into that at all so I really struggle to say or think that about those things. It feels like I'm turning over "to the dark side" !

Now I'm also aware of the inherent trap in what I'm saying here and that, in many ways, I am simply describing the way OCD works and keeps us trapped, ... yet it feels like there is a discussion to be had here nonetheless.

So I 100% accept that we need to stop performing compulsions, and like I say I've managed to do that to some degree without this acceptance idea. But I'm not "better" if such a thing exists. So I wonder if it's really a necessary step to take, because as it stands I'm reluctant to undertake this acceptance approach unless I absolutely have to.

And by the way I have tried a few times to explore the idea but it derails pretty quickly and I end up rejecting it.

So am I doomed if I carry on this way, or is it possible to get better without doing that? Also is this acceptance idea what largely makes up ACT, as I've heard of it a couple of times but not read up about it. Clearly I'm lazy and could just google it at this point

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9 January 2015 - 19:50

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Hi Sisyphus. You have a good name too. Such a nightmare isn't it. I know a lot of the time that I'm not really this or that, but then I get seized by some OCD thing and then I mean I swear it's physical. I can actually feel it in my body. The more I thrash about trying to escape the worse it gets. In a way, the more I get to know OCD the less I think it's about the actual thoughts -- they are generated by some deeper impulse towards guilt or shame or something, and sometimes I think that is what needs to be focused on. The actual physical sensation of guilt, the constriction in the throat, whatever.

But then I worry I'm barking up the wrong tree!

9 January 2015 - 20:47

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Oh I dunno about that. That could be aa very insightful point of view. I wonder similar things. Any way you look at it the thoughts are, despite their apparent extreme significance, totally insignificant, and it's the larger process that is all that matters. That's what needs addressing. But it's incredibly hard to see it that way and keep seeing it that way once the proverbial hits the fan. But you could be right about it being some tendency towards guilt and shame for some deep-seated reason, and maybe that's something that should be tackled on top of the OCD symptoms. I remember reading something to do with the interaction between the caudate nucleus, the amygdala and the frontal cortex in OCD sufferers and I was particularly interested to read that psycopaths have smaller and therefore less active amygdalas which translates to them having practically no conscience. So maybe ours is larger over-active? I dunno - obviously I'm totally reaching there myself! But it's interesting to discuss the possibilities. And maybe a neuro-surgeon will happen along who can correct me on my multiple errors and misconceptions there - I secretly know I am definitely right though - about all of it - he he he Whoa there's that good old magical thinking again. Time for a lie down.

 

This post has been thanked 1 time. 11 January 2015 - 19:02

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I hadn't clocked that magical thinking might be another aspect of the ocd... makes sense though!

11 January 2015 - 20:48

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"I hadn't clocked that magical thinking might be another aspect of the ocd... makes sense though!"

Yes I think it's fair to say that magical thinking drives a lot of OCD behaviour - i.e. we are convinced that performing certain actions or thoughts will exorcise these doubts or bad feelings we have, but in reality they have no bearing on them at all. Only thing is, people without OCD can have strong magical thinking too, hence superstitions, placebo effect, lucky charms, and (depending on your viewpoint of course) religion/magic/UFOs/fairies/angels/ghosts. I think the list is probably long. So whether OCD sufferers are more prone to magical thinking or not, I can't say. It definitely plays a part in it though.

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