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Unsure if Real Event Should Be Treated as OCD or Not

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Hello, although I haven’t been formally diagnosed (and so I completely understand if you’re skeptical, or think I’m lying to ease my conscience as an awful person) I’m pretty sure I have OCD, since the symptoms (constant intrusive thoughts, handwashing, etc) and effective treatments seemed to match. When I was 13, I suffered from obsessive worries that I was a pedo (I don’t have them anymore, and am definitely not one, although I completely understand if you’re suspicious of this after reading the disgusting event). One time at 13, to “prove’ that I wasn’t one, I wanted to brush my hand against someone’s butt as I walked past them, which is obviously massively disgusting and reprehensible. I think I thought it would be like ERP, and thought it would be fine since incidental contact was normal and nonsexual (since I was normally terrified of it),, but I think it was more of an OCD compulsion to prove I wasn’t one. I also worried about this a lot before deciding to try it which makes it even more disgusting. Thankfully, I didn’t make contact by a wide margin, but I don’t know whether that’s accidental or because I didn’t try it although this whole event definitely isn’t an OCD false memory or something. I definitely wasn’t doing this for disgusting gratification, although I completely understand if you’re skeptical of that due to the reprehensibility of the event. I now can’t stop thinking about this event, and have vacillated for years now between thinking I should use mindfulness and treat this as OCD, to thinking that’s immoral and worrying about it. I’ve emailed a few counsellors and an OCD therapist about this, and they said it was probably OCD, but the event is massively disgusting, and obviously treating this is OCD if this event makes me a monster would be a massively selfish and disgusting thing to do. Should I treat thoughts about this as OCD, or is this event problematic such that doing that would be immoral? I’m really sorry for making you read about this if the latter is that case and I am an irredeemable person, but I don’t know what to do. Thanks for the countless people you’ve helped with you advice.

Unsure if Real Event Should Be Treated as OCD or Not

Answered by on -

A.

It is important to understand that if you have OCD, that doesn’t make any of the negative things you have written about yourself true. You believe yourself to be a “terrible morally reprehensible, disgusting” person. The negative underlying thought process is likely preventing you from seeking treatment. If you don’t think you’re worthy of treatment, then why would you expend the energy in the effort to seek it? Of course, you are worthy of treatment. To think otherwise is simply wrong.

OCD is a common mental health disorder involving uncontrollable reoccurring obsessions, thoughts, and behaviors. People with this disorder feel the urge to repeat certain behaviors in an attempt to decrease their anxiety. Unfortunately, that doesn’t decrease the anxiety but instead increases it. OCD, if left untreated, can worsen, leaving an individual to feel as though there’s no way out of the vicious cycle.

You stated that you “vacillated for years” about how you should treat this disorder but the mistake in your logic is that you can be the treatment provider. You should see a trained professional to treat this disorder and not continue to attempt to treat it on your own. The right choice is to seek professional help. You began to reach out for help by emailing professionals but continue to believe that seeking treatment makes you a “monster… that is massively selfish and disgusting.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Treatment doesn’t make you any of those things. Treatment makes you wise. It makes you a person who realizes that they need help and who is open and willing to do what is necessary to get it.

Cognitive behavioral therapy will help to rectify your irrational thinking, or a related treatment such as exposure and prevention response therapy. You wouldn’t attempt to perform surgery on yourself because you know that you don’t have the requisite training to succeed. The same is true with mental health treatment. Therapists undergo a minimum of five years of training to prepare for their work. In addition to years of training, they also have to pass a licensure test and continue their education throughout their careers. Therapy is a skill that is developed through education and training. If you don’t have that education or training, you should not be attempting self-treatment.

You began your outreach by emailing therapists. That was a good start. It’s important to follow through and make an appointment. OCD is a highly treatable condition but you must be willing to participate in the treatment in order to benefit from it. You deserve help. I hope you are willing to give it a try. Good luck with your efforts. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Unsure if Real Event Should Be Treated as OCD or Not

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Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2020). Unsure if Real Event Should Be Treated as OCD or Not. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 4, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2020/07/26/unsure-if-real-event-should-be-treated-as-ocd-or-not/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 23 Jul 2020 (Originally: 26 Jul 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 23 Jul 2020
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.