Cognitive Pearl #040 Shevat 13, 5775 February 2, 15

In a previous post, I introduced the idea of separating thought from thinker. Obsessions, emanating from the frightened mind, grab our full attention. The exaggerations and confusions of anxiety are transparent to us; we have great difficulty NOT believing what these thoughts compel on us. Certainly helping the client see these seductions for himself, can help him avoid falling for the sleights of mind. There are some very useful forms of meditation and mindfulness (more on that at a later time) that can help immensely with this separation. 

For most however such psycho-education isn’t enough. Clients need help with self soothing and disentangling themselves from their fears. Even more importantly, they need help in creating new aspirations on which they can obsess to their heart’s and soul’s content.

The most important self soothing skill is seeking the comfort of others. Humanity, despite the ease that we seem to go on rampages against each other, has never found a better way to reduce dread than through companionship. In some ways, this is why therapy can be so helpful: there is finally someone to share the nightmares with! In fact for many people with OCD (as well as those with other anxiety and depression problems) social isolation is a terrible part of their lives. This allows their minds to obsess unimpeded by others.