Postpartum Anxiety & Intrusive Thoughts: One Mom’s Story
Because the issues he faces are the same ones we all face. This was after months of severe anxiety states. He was shaking a lot of the time, sweating heavily at night. He had to stop work several times and his life was grinding to a halt as he avoided as much as he could and withdrew into his private world of pain. The technique is simple — distraction… Attention is where your power is.
Ten days of almost complete normality with no sign of OCD. And it took only two days to go from gibbering wreck to happy and enthusiastic using only distraction. Old habits die hard And his cure would have been permanent but for the fact that ten days later after burning the candle at both ends, he had some little twinges of anxiety that triggered the old way of thinking.
Slowly for a further 4 days, he ramped the whole thing back up again. Again, this has powerful lessons for all of us. After making changes, we need to be sure to bed them in well. I talk to him for hours and hours and hours. The truth is that all this talking is really unnecessary in the sense that it has only one purpose.
Once he commits; two days. He is normal after two days. Twenty years of OCD gone. They are for the most part conditioned reactions that we believe in and identify with. Once you can see thoughts as just thoughts, you have the power to remove your attention from unwanted ones. Now you have a choice — to pay attention or not. Someone says something hurtful? Worried about tomorrow? Craving unhealthy food? This one simple technique ALONE can have a massive impact on your health and happiness because you always have choice.
There is always a choice of where to put your attention. You can stop reacting to everything in the same old conditioned way — the way everyone else reacts — predictably. Master the process Now you make your decisions consciously. You are in charge — not old habits, old ways and the same old reactions.
If distraction can end 20 years of misery in only 2 days, what can it do for you? Just to tell you thank you so much, I started the attention distraction method and my OCD is fading away. Many thanks!! But I now know thinking can bring nothing but more suffering. Thanks to you. Thoughts can take us over rapidly and can seem incredibly urgent and meaningful. This is where some personal coaching can help. All details are kept strictly confidential.
Neuroscience and OCD Intrusive Thoughts
Learn how to understand this nuanced phenomenon. What is POCD? Pedophilic obsessive-compulsive disorder POCD is a term used for obsessive-compulsive disorder when the primary symptom is obsessions around pedophilia. Why Does the Arousal Happen? For the next sixty seconds, focus as hard as you can on trying to detect if you feel a tingling in your left hand around your knuckles. In this exercise, many people find that they do, in fact, experience tingling. Does that mean something was happening in their left hand?
No — it involves attention and perception more than anything physical. The same kind of phenomenon can happen with sexual arousal. People with POCD are often on the lookout for signs that they are attracted to children. Paying such heightened attention to this aspect of our sensory experience can create the illusion of a sexual response, which heightens anxiety.
This anxiety then exacerbates existing POCD symptoms, creating a vicious cycle. Sometimes, however, arousal in POCD is not an illusion. Arousal Nonconcordance What is the best indicator of how much we want something? What we say. Physiological sexual arousal, if one attempts to categorize it, falls somewhere between an expression of desire and a physical reflex. Sometimes people have a physiological genital response and they do not feel desire. This is a known and researched phenomenon called arousal nonconcordance.
When we associate something with sex, that can be sufficient to create some genital arousal even in the absence of sexual desire. So how does this relate to POCD? People who suffer from POCD are often quite consumed with the fear that they are attracted to children.
Thus, because of their association with sex, children can become triggers, or cues, for unwanted arousal in those with POCD.
If you are in a position to get professional help coping with this issue, then do. The clinical directory at the International OCD Foundation is a good resource for finding a therapist who will be experienced with this issue. The first step in getting help from a trained OCD therapist will be doing an evaluation. This is a difficult step to complete without a therapist. Many people with POCD are skeptical that they have the condition. Often they are more convinced that they are, in fact, pedophiles.
Of note, PGAD also involves arousal nonconcordance, described above. If you have POCD and work with a therapist experienced with exposure and response prevention ERP therapy, they will work with you to examine the meaning you attribute to the arousal symptoms. OCD, especially for those who suffer from intrusive thoughts, involves making negative interpretations of thoughts, images, or impulses — impulses that people without OCD would not make.
Through ERP you can learn to practice reserving judgments about sexual sensations and arousal. The treatment can be powerful and has helped many people overcome POCD. Note: this and all articles on manhattanCBT.
Please consult a professional for recommendations specific for you. Email Address.
From the Experts
I was changing her diaper and a horrible thought of molesting my daughter flashed through my mind. I spent the next few days trying to understand why I would think such a thing. A normal mother would never think something like that.
I thought that something was terribly wrong with me because only a terrible person who belonged behind bars would ever think of something that horrible. The more I worried about the thought, the more unsettled and anxious I got.
The thoughts got worse and came at me more frequently. I remember praying frantically, thinking that some sort of evil spirit had taken me over. I withered in silence for a month or so before telling my husband.
Be part of something big.
All the while, the thoughts got worse and more frequent. In the meanwhile, I quit my job to stay at home with J. What would they think if they knew the kind of thoughts I had?
They would think I was a horrible person. Calling to make an appointment with a therapist was difficult. I was afraid that if I told her what I had thought that someone would take my baby away.
Somehow I made the appointment and very slowly my story unfolded. My single mom appreciated me having a friend whose family welcomed me into their home after school and during the summers.
They were a good family who adopted and fostered children. They were active participants in their church. They had a large family and they welcomed me into it with open arms. An intrusive groinal response occurs. This sets the stage for future incidents that worsen as time goes on.
This is defined by the misalignment of subjective arousal and physical arousal. Someone with Pedophilia OCD, for example, may test themselves around kids, checking for signs of arousal via a groinal response. This will usually backfire for the reasons addressed in the section above, worsening their OCD in the process.
This is akin to trying to stop an intrusive thought or image from popping in the head. The reason lies in how OCD operates. OCD is a disorder that needs validation; it not only thrives on it but it literally requires it to survive. Attempting to stop a groinal response gives OCD the attention it craves. It also leaves the sufferer concentrating on their groin area, which undoubtedly makes their sensations more obvious.
This is done through therapy and, in some cases, medication. The sufferer then refrains from performing their compulsion by refusing to wash their hands. Groinal responses are treated similarly.
The constant inner-abuse seen in this type of HOCD often leads to a deeper depression, which further distorts the intrusive thoughts, which in turn leads to even more depression. In some cases this may lead to a pseudo-gay fantasy state in which the sufferer imagines themselves living out what they see as the greatest disappointment to their parents.
The line of thinking is that they are so unlovable as to be invisible to their desired orientation. Because ERP requires significant motivation and commitment, it may also be clinically appropriate to focus on the depression first before engaging in exposures. Experimental History HOCD Despite the fact that same-sex exploration is common in children who are learning about the human body i.
So despite a post-pubescent life of heterosexual behavior, the presence of unwanted homosexual thoughts triggers frightening doubts. The sufferer is likely to compulsively review childhood memories and the unknowable memories of thoughts and feelings that might have been had during any same-sex exploration. As the sexual brain develops, so too the does the sexual mind. For people with OCD during their teens, this can be very troubling. For those whose HOCD develops later, they may look back on this period in which their sexuality was developing and compulsively analyze anything that could be construed as inconsistent with their current sexual preference.
Another variation on this reflecting form of HOCD is compulsive analysis of any same-sex play that might have taken place in college or at some other point in life. Curiosity is not orientation. Whatever happened, happened. A male sufferer might notice an attractive male, and then chastise himself for being able to notice attractiveness in males. This is sometimes more triggering than exposure to gay pornography.
Bizarre Thoughts and Me: Confessions of an OCD Therapist
It also may involve avoidance of assertive behavior or any other cultural attribute traditionally associated with masculinity. Yet the HOCD sufferer is going to compulsively check and analyze sensations for evidence of homosexuality.
Part of the confusion the OCD capitalizes on is the fact that groinal stimulation is generally considered a positive sensation. Fellatio or cunnilingus is going to feel good no matter what gender is delivering it, but the HOCD mind insists it only be delivered by a person to whom we are attracted in order to accept it. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy CBT for the treatment of this type of HOCD is going to involve identifying and challenging distorted beliefs about groinal responses and exposure to arousing material that falls outside of their traditional preferences.
While it will no doubt be triggering for some readers to consider, many people who identify as heterosexual sometimes have homosexual thoughts, feelings, sensations and fantasies.
HOCD / Gay OCD: Common Subtypes
Those without obsessive-compulsive tendencies allow themselves to enjoy this aspect of their reality. These are people who prefer sexual activity with the opposite sex, but also find same-sex fantasies and even behaviors to be somewhat intriguing and arousing.
They are not bisexuals, who would likely say they are quite capable of sexual and romantic fulfillment with either sex, but are instead heterosexuals who simply are not dangling off either edge of the Kinsey scale. For those people who experience themselves as somewhere within this spectrum of sexuality, but also have HOCD, this can be very upsetting.
The exposure is not aimed at homosexuality, but at uncertainty.