Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can be so debilitating it is recognised by the WHO as being one of the top 10 most disabling illnesses. And 1 in 50 people suffer from OCD in some way.

It can take many forms; Contamination Obsessions (germ phobias, washing hands, cleaning etc), Harm Obsessions (need to check repeatedly that doors are locked or stove is turned off or house will burn down etc), Obsessions without Visible Compulsions (intrusive thoughts such as being convinced you will do something to harm someone or that because you thought someone might be harmed that it will be your fault), Symmetry Obsessions (ordering, arranging, counting etc looking for that “just right” feeling), Hoarding (not able or willing to throw things away, or fear of losing things etc).

These can manifest in a number of ways too; Did I do X?, Bad things will happen if I didn’t do X, Rituals, Need for perfection, Superstitions, Excessive Obsessional Rumination/Intrusive Thoughts, If I think X then X will happen, Over developed sense of responsibility (I am responsible if X gets sick).

Because it is deep rooted in fear and anxiety those suffering from it spend large portions of their life living in their primitive brain. The Primitive Mind only operates within the primitive perameters of Fight (Anger), Flight(Anxiety), Depression (Hide) and overides the intellectual rational mind. So OCD can become so all consuming and overwhelming that it can be hard to see a way out, or imagine how things might be without it.

Many will be aware of Exposure Response Therapy from CBT. Which has been shown to work to an extent. It has c. 27% success rate according to trials (with 25% refusing the therapy, 20% abandoning it and 50% of the remainder not able to maintain the levels of control achieved after treatment). Which is actually a huge step forward considering it used to be more or less considered to be untreatable.

However the CBT approach requires an all or nothing confontation of the condition. E.g. a hoarder having to throw out a skip’s worth… without checking every item. Which probably explains why so many find the prospect overwhelming.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy has a slightly different approach. We would be looking at lowering overall stress and anxiety levels while at the same time seeing if we can move up one step on the levels of control people have at a time.