Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder that affects people of all ages and walks of life, and occurs when a person gets caught in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images, or urges that trigger intensely distressing feelings.
New studies shows that people with obsessive-compulsive disorder need to develop skills to adapt to the environment, rather than adopting strategies of emotional distancing from the various situations they face in order to manage the specific symptoms of the disorder more effectively.
Over the past twenty years, behavior therapy has been shown to be extremely effective in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and for liberating us from our negative mindset Dr. Schwartz has developed a technique in four steps. He is proposing to help people with obsessive thoughts free themselves. Practicing his method on a daily basis is mandatory for a guaranteed effect.
Obsessive thoughts are mental products that seem to go their own way. In most cases, we try to stop or control them with the paradoxical result that they increase exponentially. When we deny or avoid obsessing over something, we keep that obsession in our minds for a longer time.
How to turn ourselves in our biggest fan instead of our worst enemy?
We know that exposure response prevention (commonly referred to as ERP, a therapy that encourages you to face your fears and let obsessive thoughts occur without ‘putting them right’ or ‘neutralising’ them with compulsions) is one of the treatments for obsessive compulsive disorder, especially if it goes along with rituals. In the case of pure obsessions, we can choose to record our obsession or write it down and repeatedly expose ourselves to it, until anxiety subsides.
There is a novel and very effective technique based on cognitive therapy that seems to be giving promising results on some patients. It is Dr. Schwart’s 4-step technique. Jeffrey Schwartz is a great researcher on the brain plasticity of obsessive compulsive disorder.
Dr. Schwartz proved that following his 4-step technique, not only did people with OCD control their obsessive thoughts, but even the metabolism of their neural circuit returned to normal levels.
Schwarzt’s 4-step technique is based on the “4 Rs”:
The re-labeling of thoughts basically consists in calling our thoughts and actions on their actual names: obsessions and compulsions. We must become aware of what is happening to us. OCD is a pathology and our obsessions are a product of it, as are neutralizations.
The objective in this step is to attribute the responsibility for the obsessive symptomatology to the subject that belongs to it, that is, to the OCD itself. The idea is for the patient to say to himself, “It’s not me, it’s OCD.” OCD rooted in a biochemical imbalance in the brain and / or in childhood mislearning.
It is very necessary to understand the role the brain plays in OCD thoughts and impulses. If we know that it is a psychological or medical condition and we do not merge it with ourselves, we can win arguments to avoid avoidance behavior.
In addition, demoralizing and destructive behaviors that are characteristic for people with OCD will be less frequent: the frustrated attempt to try to get thoughts and impulses out of the way.
“Like in case of any other disease that has symptoms, we must know where everything comes from for not taking on us a responsibility that does not correspond to us,” explains Dr. Schwart.
The focus of the refocus is to shift our attention, even for a few minutes, to another issue that has nothing to do with our thoughts.
Obsessive people develop an automatic and fast habit in accordance to what they think and do with thoughts. This step refers to, after you have become aware in the previous steps of what happens to you, making a “gear shift” and self-automate the brain in a conscious way.
For succeeding in doing so, hobbies are a great alternative. You can go for a run with your dog, plant seeds in a pot and water it, paint a picture, listen to music or anything else you can think of that inhibits your impulses.
Revaluing basically means putting into action the “two As”: Accept and Anticipate. Regarding acceptance, if we have rightly and thoroughly performed the previous steps, it will be easier for us to begin reevaluating our problem for what it is and accepting it. We will not resign ourselves but try to keep on working in order to improve, while quit fighting against our OCD because we already know that fighting and fixating ourselves on control only feeds the OCD.