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I wonder if the true culprit is EOCD for many of us...?

789 Views 8 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  KittyKitten
Hi, all.

Many of you know my recent trip to a psychologist didn't exactly go well. I explained my symptoms to her and she actually suggested I had some sort of amnesia (for the DP/DR) and repressed anger (for the violent intrusive thoughts I tend to get). I left feeling defeated and pretty darn upset. She obviously knew nothing about...psychology, which baffled me.

Since then, I've been reading up on CBT as a way to help with intrusive thoughts. I couldn't see myself in the book I was reading other than the violent intrusive thoughts, so I thought "hey, I'm going to email the psychologist who wrote this book and tell him everything to see if his book could still help." So I did. I told him that I have thoughts that everything around me isn't real, my family isn't real, who am I anyway?, why do humans look the way they do, I find it strange our thoughts work the way they do, that time works the way it does, do we remember things, how do I know things actually happened?, that we're all just walking brains and it's freaking me out, and that I also get violent thoughts sometimes, a fear that I'll just lose control one day and hurt my loved ones or myself in a moment of impulse or insanity. I basically told him I feel confused about everything and have a fear I'm going crazy: why would I think so deeply about these things? Why would I question my own reality?

He emailed me back a few days ago and said I was exhibiting common symptoms of something known as existential OCD, or EOCD. It's lesser known than other forms of OCD but involves things such as:

-questioning reality, what makes reality true. the fear that everything around you isn't real, that everything around you is made up in your head.

-questioning how common things work; questioning why we look the way we do or how our bodies and minds work. why are we here anyway? what's the point of all this?

-questioning how time works, why the sky looks the way it does, why languages exist and how we communicate as humans, etc

-looking in the mirror and wondering why you look the way you do and what makes you, you.

-etc, etc, etc. basically philosophical and existential questions about why things or beings are the way they are and the inability to prove everything/anything.

He told me that the best way to combat EOCD is through cognitive behavioral therapy, CBT, as you would any other type of OCD.

After he sent me the email and then also reading (and rereading) a lot of posts on here, I wonder if many of us have EOCD with DP/DR just as a side effect of constant anxiety due to the OCD. Maybe some other people have already come to this realization, but I thought it was worth sharing!

This could mean that many of us who actually do have EOCD rather than "just" DP/DR could be treated with cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy. I've been reading a lot on here these past few days people afraid to leave the house "in this state", exposure response therapy and CBT might be the right option for them.

This in no way is saying that there aren't people who genuinely have DPD without OCD, but I truly am starting to think that some of us have OCD (EOCD to be exact) rather than JUST dp/dr. The DP/DR is simply an after effect of all the thinking (IE: I keep having thoughts that everything around me looks weird, off and not it actually DOES look off, weird and unreal). (everywhere I've read DP/DR happens in times of severe, constant anxiety...and as someone who has had pretty extreme OCD for the past two years...the anxiety can be debilitating) And CBT might help with this, which in turn will help with the tendency to dissociate.

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Yes, I reckon there could be different ways of categorizing these things, maybe depending on what is the most prevalent of a person's symptoms, but there always seems a lot of cross-over with many if not all mental health complaints.

CBT can be presented in a very complicated way sometimes that can make it confusing - especially if you have mental health issues! But the principals are sound and effective when used the right way. They are about changing thought patterns or retraining how we interpret thoughts and feelings. Like you said Kittykitten, it takes time and repetition for these things to sink in, as the mind believes you are in danger and is trying to protect you so it's not going to stop reacting in the way it is doing overnight.

I think that when applying CBT there are some things that can really help:

Don't use it in a self attacking way - like "that's a stupid thought, I'm so stupid, why am I thinking this way?" etc. Be supportive and first accept it, so instead you might say, "Ah, that's just my mind trying to protect me. Thank you for doing that but I'm okay."

Make the statements objectively true. If they are not they won't make any difference. The mind will consider your suggestions. If they are true, over time they carry weight. So you might say, "There's no danger," which there isn't.

Keep it simple and general. Let the mind sort out all the details. Stick to a general saying that applies to all your strange thoughts and feelings, like, "It's just adrenaline, it's harmless."

So put it altogether and you might have, "Ah, that scary thought/feeling is just adrenaline. It's harmless. It's just my mind trying to protect me. Thanks, but I'm okay, there's no danger."
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