What is OCD?

OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) is a psychiatric disorder which has two essential characteristics – obsessions and compulsions.

What are obsessions? 

Obsessions are intrusive thoughts, impulses, images and sensations that repeatedly plague the conscious mind of the person who has OCD.

What are compulsions?

Compulsions merge with the obsessions to complete the disorder. These can be seen (overt) or not seen (covert); a person will do either or both.

Why do people do compulsions?

Compulsions (also known as rituals or "safety" behaviours) are carried out to reduce the distress caused by the obsessions, to ward off perceived danger or to "feel right". 

For example, if the obsession is an intolerance to asymmetry the corresponding overt compulsion might be to repeatedly align objects "perfectly" to reduce anxiety and to "feel right". Sometimes a magical element is added, such as fearing something bad happening if the objects (or other things) are not made "perfectly" straight and so the person will repeatedly align the objects to "prevent" the bad thing from happening. 

What about pure-o obsessions?

Pure-o is a term used to explain obsessions referring to three categories which are sexual, harm and religious manifestations. 

Do compulsions differ for pure-o?

The compulsions involved in pure-o are usually hidden (covert). These include repeatedly uttering a silent prayer or phrase to neutralise the intrusive thoughts and also often to "prevent" the thoughts from coming true. However, people who have pure-o might do open rituals too, such as seeking reassurance and checking. Unfortunately, all compulsions reinforce the problem and make OCD worse.

How is OCD treated? 

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) either with a therapist or self-applied guide helps direct thoughts, feelings and behaviours by challenging unhelpful thinking patterns. CBT helps pave the way for exposure response prevention (ERP) in which habituation is reached by systematically resisting the compulsions that have been feeding the obesssion(s).

What about Medication? 

Medication in the form of selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors is often used in the treatment of OCD. More about medication is discussed in the course. 

How is OCD treated via this course? 

This course is a self-directed program that discusses CBT and ERP; yet, unlike an OCD book where you follow the directions independently, this course comes with guidance, if required. For example, you may find you need help to write a hierarchy when working on the ERP section (either for you or someone you're coaching); or help on which self-applied exposures would be helpful for the related obsession. 

How are my assignments assessed? 

These are sent to Carol Edwards for her appraisals (optional) for a small fee. All instructions are explained in the course.