Today is the last day of OCD Awareness Week. I have been putting up links to informative websites on my Facebook page to, well, bring some awareness. I have also spent some time reflecting on how U.S. views OCD, which is pretty warped.

OCD is a neuropsychiatric disorder, which means the cause is attributed to abnormal brain function. It is not caused by weak will, lack of exercise/nutrition, or difficulties with mothers. It is likely caused by a mix of genetic and environmental factors, with an emphasis on the genetic part. It is treatable with therapy and medication.

Misconceptions about OCD are abound. I don’t expect people in general to understand everything about the disorder, but it would be nice if people could at least tone down the judgments to be on par with epilepsy or cancer. OCD isn’t anyones fault, even if individuals with OCD (and sometimes their families) have to solve those problems anyway (DBT reference). And of the things I’ve learned in my personal and professional life, the inclination to psych problems would be higher if fear of being judged weren’t an issue. Instead, people may wait to get treatment until it’s unbearable, or worse commit suicide.

Yes, OCD can cause people to be miserable to the point of killing themselves.

It’s not a personality quirk.

It’s mental torture.

Stigma continues to decrease as people continue to speak out. OCD Awareness Week is one way to do that. Having OCD does not mean someone is defective. It just is what it is.






OCPD Legos and Building Change

(I give away the ending to The Lego Movie. You’ve been warned)

A local theater was showing The Lego Movie, with the proceeds of low-cost tickets going to charity. It sounded like fun, so my daughter and I went on a whim. I have reached point where I can generally ignore the part of my brain that is The Therapist, but sometimes it flips on anyway.

As we find out at the end, a young boy is playing with Legos and the tyrannical villain is inspired by his father. His father constructed an elaborate Lego city, which is meant for looking and not touching. Just as the father reaches for a tube of Krazy Glue to preserve the perfect city, he feels guilty, gets in touch with his value as a caring parent, and starts to play Legos with his son.

People with Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) can get caught up in how things should be. Like, really really caught up. As we see in The Lego Movie, which has a surprisingly good depiction of OCPD, getting caught up in how things should be results in a lot of anger, hurt feelings, and pretending like Everything is Awesome when it’s not. OCPD isn’t particularly fun for all involved.

The bright side is that people learn and grow and strive to live within their values. Most of us have a warm and fuzzy side, including adult perfectionists who want to use permanent adhesives to hold Legos together. And when our environments give us feedback that “Hey, not okay,” sometimes we get the message and respond accordingly.





You’re Not In DBT, part 2

In You’re Not in DBT, part 1, I gave a brief definition of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and suggested your therapist may be engaging in dishonesty behavior if claiming to provide DBT services when they are not providing all modes of DBT service delivery.

Today we’ll talk about what to expect from DBT and how to find a provider.

What to Expect (Briefly)

  1. Providing a commitment not to kill yourself or engage in self-harm – and keeping that commitment.
  2. Avoiding psychiatric hospitalization like the plague.
  3. One hour of individual therapy and one to two hours of skills training per week, with homework.
  4. It’s behavioral, so you change your behavior – yes, that’s easier said than done, but the plus side is you get guidance on change.
  5. And there is a big emphasis on acceptance – you are where you are.
  6. Getting comfy with what seem like contradictions – dialectics.
  7. Tracking emotions, symptoms, and skills used on a diary card on a daily basis.
  8. Acronyms upon acronyms.
  9. Structure – all sessions have an agenda, starting with keeping you alive followed by sticking with therapy and ending with everything else. You don’t get much time to ramble.
  10. Being viewed as capable – which means you’re held accountable for your actions.
  11. Many, many “Assumptions,” a noteworthy one being the relationship between the therapist and client as a relationship between equal people. Yep, your therapist is a human, not unlike you.

Where do I find a DBT therapist?

Check the Behavioral Tech “Find a Therapist” directory

Also check the DBT-Linehan Board of Certification website

You can also ask your psychiatrist or get a referral from an inpatient program, if applicable. Chances are pretty good they’ll suggest it before you ask if there is a program close to you, and your risk of committing suicide is high.

Next in the series will feature alternatives to DBT, for those who find DBT ineffective, don’t have access to it, or just don’t plain care for it.