The Many Unseen Faces of OCD
What if I am in a simulation and this life is not real? What if I pick up that knife and stab my mother? What if I am a serial killer at heart and I truly want to hurt people? What if I molested a child and I just can’t remember doing it? What if I am a bad person and I can’t do anything to change it? If the brain can think it. OCD can jinx it! OCD is a mental health condition consisting of relentless preoccupation with various topics causing significant distress, followed by physical or mental acts completed in an effort to relieve the distress. Unfortunately, the more one engages in this cycle, the more debilitating and rampant the OCD becomes.
OCD is the ultimate trickster hiding behind many different masks. What many people are not aware of is that OCD covers much more ground than the well-known themes of contamination, symmetry and “just right-ness.” In fact, many people are living with OCD without even knowing it because their thoughts do not reflect the stereotypical content typically associated with the diagnosis. OCD thoughts are limitless in content and can be very disturbing to those experiencing them!! These intrusive thoughts are often violent, sexual and terrifying in nature. In these cases, people tend to assume that their frightening thoughts are a reflection of their identity and lack awareness that they are actually experiencing symptoms of OCD. The truth is that those who suffer from taboo obsessions are actually the least likely to ever act on their thoughts and fears. They are so terrified of the possibility of acting on the thoughts that it is all they think about and their behaviors revolve around ensuring they never carry out the content of their thoughts.
Sadly, individuals with these types of obsessions often suffer in silence for years before they tell anyone about their mental torture, causing immense shame and delaying access to treatment. Sexual obsessions can be especially painful and isolating. For example, individuals with pedophilia-themed OCD show higher rates of suicidality and suicide attempts than other subtypes of the disorder. These individuals are often unaware that they are suffering from OCD rather than a true sexual perversion and get to the place where death seems like the only escape from the mental torment. Educating the general population and mental health professionals about the various subtypes of OCD can literally save lives! OCD is a very treatable condition and there are many resources and professionals who can help!
Erika Poladian, LMFT