Last Christmas, I received as a gift Deepak Chopra’s book, Super Brain. As a person with a mental illness, I wasn’t sure if this was good news or bad news.
A majority of my prior Christmases have been lackluster because I relive the same year, in and out, without seeming to make the progress I desire in my life. It’s kind of like the movie Groundhog Day , only for years and years. I wasn’t sure if analyzing my brain any further would be a good idea.
So how does OCD relate to all the books, paintings, and movies that a society produces? Essentially, these supposedly give us hope that our lives will get better. My real question is: Does art really achieve any more than false hope for those of us with mental illness?
A sufferer of a mental illness can read as many books and see as many movies as he or she wants without a change in his or her life. Additionally, I think the art of a society reflects its values to a point. The rest is just entertainment.
OCD can be a master illusionist. My OCD likes to use smoke and mirrors, and like a lawyer that is about to lose a case on the merits will confuse things by throwing in statements that plant doubt in the jury’s mind at the last second to deflect and distort the truth. Additionally, it should be noted that OCD can be learned in addition to having a genetic component. In some people environmental stimuli can trigger the illness. A movie one viewed three years ago can trigger a reaction in the sufferer if he sees a rerun on television or a flash of it on some stupid Internet article.
In the end, each person has a different personal relationship with books and movies that intrigue them. Each person is different. With OCD, the neverending journey that the disorder puts us on hopefully has a happy ending like most of the movies we love.
I think it is important for people with OCD not to feel like they have to catch every last detail, whether of a movie or of a scenario with a doctor, to make progress with their lives. We tend to focus on details. You can call it purely obsessional OCD or whatever.
People with OCD are sometimes at odds with situations that require the learning of too many details for a patient. An example of such a decision is engaging with psychiatrists who don’t know as much about OCD as the patient does. OCD patients usually have a knowledge of their own illness and don’t like it when other people make decisions for them.
OCD teases sufferers with the answer to their dilemmas. It is good to look for answers. However, it can become a compulsion in some. Every person is different and has different preferences. We don’t want a last detail to derail a OCD sufferer’s treatment, whether it be exposure therapy or regular cognitive behavioral. Like in the lawyer metaphor, that last detail can be a real doozy.