Body-Focused Obsessions: Sensorimotor Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
There are so many different types of obsessions and compulsions when it comes to OCD. Perhaps among the less talked about are sensorimotor, or body-focused, obsessions which involve a heightened awareness and focus on involuntary bodily activities and processes.
Common examples include hyperawareness of swallowing, breathing, or blinking. Additionally, overattention to bladder and digestive processes — indeed, any unhealthy focus on a specific body part or organ — might also fall into the category of sensorimotor obsessions.
I think these types of obsessions seem particularly brutal because they involve necessary, ongoing bodily processes. There truly is no escape, and this fact often plays into the sufferer’s obsessions.
The fear of never being able to stop thinking about or focusing on their swallowing, or beating heart, can cause intense anxiety in OCD sufferers. Those who are consumed with worry about swallowing might actually be afraid of choking, or they might just be tormented by the thought that they will never be able to stop thinking about swallowing.
Not surprisingly, compulsions that help distract the OCD sufferer follow. Counting, for example, might briefly help sufferers focus away from their swallowing. Avoidance behaviors such as avoiding certain foods might also be a compulsion in this case.
However, performing compulsions never helps for long, and will make the OCD stronger in the long run. Those with OCD who suffer from sensorimotor obsessions often find their lives greatly affected. They have trouble concentrating on anything other than their obsession(s) and might have difficulties socializing and sleeping as well.
So what is the treatment for this particularly torturous type of OCD? The same as for all types of OCD: Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy.