Our “Favorite” Things About OCD, Part 3
1:20: Lauren Rosen, LMFT, and Kelley Franke, LMFT, talk about their “Favorite Things” once again on this third installation of their holiday special.
This week’s theme is IDENTITY CRISIS!!
I.e., How OCD makes you question everything about your identity, like:
– “What if I’m not sexually attracted to this gender?”
– “Maybe I’m really a psychopath or a murder?”
– “What if I’m really a pedophile? “
– “I might not really be who I think I am.”
– “This isn’t what love should be.”
– “Maybe I’m a total fraud.”
When people pull back on the compulsions, there can be this narrative of “I’m bad for not doing this compulsion” because if I did it, I could help somebody.
This whole idea that maybe you are bad for doing the exposure or for doing the response prevention can result in GUILT!
This episode is about dealing with the question of identity related to OCD and the challenges related to recovery.
Kelley and Lauren discuss some of the ways they have seen OCD attack identity in their own practices.
One very common way in which OCD attacks identity is through Sexual Orientation OCD
This subtype focuses on the concerns like
- “Maybe I don’t really know myself.”
- “Maybe I don’t know my sexual orientation.”
This comes up with obsessions related to gender identity. Obsessions can sound like:
- “Deep down, I just might not know who I am.”
- “I’m lying to myself; I’m in denial.”
Oh, the D word man…the big D! That phrase (I’m in denial); comes up so much in OCD!
5:02: The question of identity also comes up for those with harm OCD, posting questions like “What if I’m really a psychopath and I want to, or am going to, murder somebody”. The fear becomes “Who am I – [What] if I’m this thing – this monster?”
Kelley notes that usually those people who have harm obsessions are the sweetest, kindest people.”
Lauren mentioned that Pedophilia OCD can also lead people to question their identity, too.
– “Maybe I”m not a person of faith”.
– “Maybe I’m really worshiping the devil, because I’m not doing stuff right.”
– “It’s possible I don’t really mean that.”
– “What if I don’t really love that person, because I am disingenuous with them”
– “I might not living the life that I am supposed to be living?”
– “Maybe I’m not being the right person in this world?”
-“What if this isn’t even me?”
– “What if I’m a false version of myself?
Lauren talks about navigating the concept of identity more generally.
“Looking at identity, and how we relate to identity, can be so important in recovery. We are so bound to this idea of “this is the person I am”, and one of the ways to navigate this in recovery is to have a bit of a looser grip on what it means to be you, and to recognize that we’re actually this narrative. This story of who we are.
But we are constantly changing from moment to moment, and evolving, and becoming different people. It’s important to recognize. Especially because, our identities can start to interfere with our ability to change because some of us have these narratives of, “Oh I’m not capable of this.”
Lauren Rosen, LMFT
Kelley notes that certain life stages and subsequent identity transitions predispose us to OCD flare ups.
”There are definitely different life stages where you go from being a kid to going to teenager. Being a teenager going to somebody that’s going to college, and from college to becoming an adult and an adult to someone who’s married and has a child. I think those are definitely locations in time where OCD can really go “hmmm things are different. I don’t know if I’m liking this, so let me find something that will really mess you up.”Kelley Franke, LMFT
The questions posed in this week’s Q&A include:
Question 1: Did I really mean that thought, or am I just really trying to call it OCD when I’m actually a terrible person.
“We want to treat our thoughts equally by saying “oh this is a thought”, because, when we start to separate them, “Well that’s OCD.”, after a while it’s almost like it can become compulsive and reassurance giving.
Thoughts aren’t inherently good or bad. They’re just thoughts. We want to treat them as neutral. It doesn’t matter if they’re OCD or not. It doesn’t. In fact, in some cases, depending on the client, I say, ‘We aren’t going to call it OCD. OCD is a bad word. We’re not using it. It’s a 3 letter – “4 letter” – word. It’s off the table, man.
And something happens in that person where they say, “What do you mean we can’t call it OCD any more”, and they can get really triggered and that proves we are on the right track.
Kelley Franke, LMFT
“It’s like a bridge. Recognizing that your thoughts are not inherently indicative of who you are is an initial step, but there is a point in which you kind of have to let go of that anchor too. We have to accept uncertainty about that as well.”
Thoughts are thoughts. They’re neither good nor bad. Because they’re nothing. They’re just stories. We’ve said this before, but Stephen King would be in jail so many times if thoughts were a problem. If thoughts meant anything inherently. ‘Cause the Dude’s got a messed up mind.”Lauren McMeikan, LMFT
They laugh about Stephen King and qualify that, yes it’s messed up, but In the best way.
Question 2: “How do I stop feeling guilty about unwanted, blasphemous thoughts? It’s torture.
They start by offering their apologies to the person asking for having to go through this.
“The answer, from our vantage point, is if you’re feeling guilty about having certain thoughts and that identity crisis is coming into play, we actually don’t want you to get rid of the guilt feeling. This is so counter intuitive.
It’s really down to accepting the possibility that we don’t know who we are and that, maybe, these unwanted thoughts aren’t actually unwanted. Maybe they are wanted and maybe that makes me bad. Then feel the sense of anxiety, the sense of guilt that comes up that’s a result of that, and make lots and lots of space.”Lauren McMeikan, LMFT
“and we’ve probably done nothing wrong. You just had a thought. And just like everything, that can become compulsive. That’s why accepting that you don’t know is important, but with lots of compassion too.
Guilt can come along for the ride when you read your imaginals and you’re doing your exposures. We just don’t want to buy into it.”Kelley Franke, LMFT
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