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What is OCD?

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OCD is a malevolent advisor that wants to deceive us about the fundamental nature of the world. It wants us to believe that the world shouldn’t have any sharp edges and that our experience should be as smooth and snag-free as possible. If snags are apparent, it tells us that we should exchange our current experience for one that is more perfect. Although nice in theory, embracing such a philosophy creates an impossible situation. After all, there is no snag-free world to inhabit. Even the best world is fundamentally flawed. The more we become preoccupied by the pursuit of perfection, the more hyperaware we become of life’s flaws. As Dr. Jon Grayson writes, as soon as we begin comparing anything real to the ideal, the real becomes intolerably cheapened in the comparison. Reality, no matter how good, can never live up...

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Scary Thoughts as Costumes: The Illusion of Danger

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It’s nearly Halloween, and kids around the country are digging through dusty closets and plundering the aisles of local Halloween shops in search of the perfect costume. Halloween is the one night of the year when we give ourselves permission to be silly, scary, or fantastical. We can act a little weird, and nobody will disapprove. On Halloween, it’s normal to see the ghastly holding hands with the divine; fairy princesses walk amongst zombies, lions, and super heroes. There is something thrilling about handing over the reins to your imagination…even if it’s only for a single night. But what would happen if the masks got stuck? What if every goblin remained a goblin and every ghost remained a ghost? The children underneath the make-up would still be our children, but their appearance would remain altered. How would we feel...

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OCD Awareness Week

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The International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) is sponsoring OCD Awareness Week, which means that organizations around the world are hosting special OCD-related events this week. South Floridians, we invite you to join us for our monthly support group meeting tonight (10/9/12) at 6:30pm in our Palm Beach Gardens, Florida office. You might also want to check out some of the amazing OCD Awareness Week events that are hosted online. Please note that the list below is just a sampling of all the incredible events that are going on this week. Feel free to cross-post to Facebook, Twitter, or your personal blog to help spread the word. Happy OCD Awareness Week 2012! List of OCD Awareness Week Events http://www.ocfoundation.org/awarenessweek 2012 Dare to Believe Contest Winners – Listen, read, and watch incredible projects created by talented individuals to promote OCD awareness. http://ocfoundation.org/anighttobelieve/ OCD Film Festival...

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OCD Books & OCD Websites

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This is a recommended list of OCD books and OCD websites that I consider to be essential reading for individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder. In addition to my formal training in OCD treatment, these OCD books and websites have had a profound impact on how I conceptualize and treat OCD. This list is not intended to be exhaustive but instead includes only those resources that I have read personally and consider to be the “best of the best.” I will update this list periodically as I come across other “must read” books, websites, and resources for people with OCD. Please note: In order to keep this list streamlined and useful, unfortunately I can’t accept requests for additions to this list. As such, comments have been disabled for this post. Books About OCD Freedom From OCD by Jon Grayson Dr. Jon...

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Worry & “What If” Questions

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Anxiety, Worry, & What If Questions If you have anxiety, it’s likely that you wrestle with worry and “what if” questions. Many what if questions are easily recognizable and start with the obvious, “What if…?” Others are more subtle and begin with phrases like “How am I ever going to…?” By definition, what if questions prompt us to solve problems that haven’t actually happened yet. The possibilities are truly endless. These worries may involve fears about current situations or about situations set far in the future. What if questions are often difficult to resist because by answering them, we often feel that we become more mentally “prepared” or “ready” to deal with life’s uncertainties. In fact, many individuals feel stressed out if they ignore their worries. They think that because what ifs involve potentially dangerous situations, it’s irresponsible or...

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Treatment of Unwanted Thoughts & Sensations in OCD

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In my post about the treatment of sensorimotor OCD, a reader asked about the ultimate goal of treatment. Should the goal of treatment be to never notice an unwanted thought or symptom? Suppressing Unwanted Thoughts & Sensations in Pure-O & Sensorimotor OCD Let’s explore this idea in detail. Suppose I adopt the goal of being 100% symptom free. After all, this is the endpoint of treatment that most people are seeking. What are the implications of this goal? You will likely slow down your progress. Why? Because every day you will encounter something that violates your expectations. Unwanted thoughts are a normal part of the human experience. Everyone has thoughts that are unwanted, aggressive, selfish, perverse, or deviant at times. For people without OCD, these thoughts tend to be fleeting because the thoughts themselves aren’t treated as significant. They...

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