What I Learned About Anxiety From ‘Girls’

By Eitan Kensky

Earlier this month, HBO’s “Girls” ended its second season with Hannah Horvath (Lena Dunham) incapacitated by anxiety-induced Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, her ebook on the lost generation of 20-somethings looking more and more unlikely; I read the first few chapters of Phillip Lopate’s new book “To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction” and Lopate’s thoughts on a writer’s obsessions; and I started to have a panic attack at the Brattle Theater in Cambridge, Mass., during a promotional screening of Shane Carruth’s “Upstream Color.”


It had been three medicated years since the last one, but I knew immediately what was happening. There is the initial trigger: a jolt, a kick, you’re aware that your breathing is a little unusual, or that your body isn’t reacting the way that it should. You extend your breathing to see if that will slow your heart, but your body is shifting, moving, trying to find a comfortable position. You become obsessed with the thought of relaxing. You notice that you wore really tight socks. You need to be composed, and stay composed. The thing you fear most is embarrassment. As soon as your conscious mind forms the words “panic attack,” it is over: that thought will metastasize, it will be the only thing in your brain. “Don’t pass out” becomes a hopeless mantra, and you lose consciousness.

Or: you realize what is happening. You grab your coat, leave, try to find somewhere quiet to settle down. Your head is a weird combination of heavy and light, your vision blurs. Outside the theater I propped myself up on one of those green plastic boxes where they dispense brochures for the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. But I need to sit down, and the only thing I see are the snow-wet steps leading to the Anthropologie on the second floor of the Design Research Building at 48 Brattle Street. I’m not sure how long I sat on the steps, relaxing. Two girls passed me: one only said excuse me; one asked me if the store was closed. There was an ambulance almost exactly in front of the theater. If it was there before, I didn’t notice. I wondered if they watched me keel over on the plastic box, and if they thought to help. By then I was feeling closer to normal. Those thoughts meant that I was close to normal. I pulled out my phone, saw there was a bus coming, and left. I’ll have to go back in April to see the movie.

I never wanted to write about “Girls” because so much has been written about “Girls.” By now it’s even cliché to start a piece on “Girls” by apologizing for adding to the pile of writing on “Girls.” But I also had nothing to add. The only thing I ever wanted to say about “Girls” was that the media debate over its Whiteness was really a proxy for the general lack of diversity on TV, and even a proxy for the fact that middle-class college graduates still cloister themselves in racially homogenous social groups. But that idea was taken before an editor could respond to my pitch.

Then Hannah had her breakdown. I know that Hannah’s anxieties aren’t the same as mine; to paraphrase Tolstoy, “every anxious person is anxious in her own way.” But I also know that I wouldn’t try writing about Hannah and “Girls” if I hadn’t experienced what I experienced this week — and that experience includes Lopate’s advice to a student worrying that she didn’t have the necessary obsessions to write, that “obsession was overrated.” Obsession is overrated. Ask Hannah.

Out of nowhere she started to do things in eights: she pinches herself eight times, turns her head eight times to one side, then eight times to the other. There was a cartoonish quality to it; it seemed more like someone’s imagination of what incapacitating OCD looks like than a mirror of personal experience. The show needed expository dialogue to fill in the gaps: Hannah’s parents were conveniently visiting, they saw their daughter counting, and diagnosed it as a recurrence of adolescent OCD. They took her to a child psychiatrist; he prescribed medication. She said she didn’t want to take medication because of the way it makes her feel. The episode ends with Hannah and her parents straphanging on the subway. The parents are weary, but Hannah is dopey. She clutches a pharmacy bag with her other hand.

The storyline grew more convincing as it continued. Medication (if she’s taking it) doesn’t resolve her problems. Her editor hates her writing. Her friends have disappeared. In a beautifully composed shot, Hannah stands in front of a mirror manically cleaning her ear with a Q-Tip, pushing it inside her body until she shoves it too far and winces in pain. The Q-Tip is stuck and she will have to go to the hospital to get it removed. The mirror makes the scene: Hannah watches her actions, she sees herself doing something she should not, she knows she should stop. She recognizes, clearly, what is happening. But recognition cannot stop the action. It almost never stops the action. Later, back home from the hospital, proudly bearing her bloody Q-Tip as a talisman, Hannah starts cleaning out the other ear, shoving a Q-Tip inside. Her obsessions won’t allow her to leave one side alone. This is what happens in anxiety attacks: you do things you know are irrational and bad for you. You need them, and then hate yourself for needing them.

Everything after this is an anti-climax. The last episode brings people together and splits others apart. But it was always going to be an anti-climax: you can’t honestly resolve obsessions and anxieties in a half-hour episode of a sitcom, not if you’ve been honest about those anxieties, as “Girls” did in the season’s penultimate episode, during the Q-Tip scene. All you can do is retreat to a moment of calm.

The most admirable part of the show’s treatment of anxiety is its refusal to connect Hannah’s breakdown and her ebook. The two coincide, and the viewer is invited to link them. It even comes up in her meeting with the psychiatrist. But they never explicitly say that Hannah’s anxiety is about writing and the pressure of being the voice of her lost generation. They never diagnose this as the cause, because it’s not the cause. Anxiety and panic are never as sudden as we imagine them to be. There’s a trigger, yes, but the attack is only set off because the sufferer is already in an elevated state of stress. Hannah’s OCD manifests itself not because she has to write a book, but because she had a terrible breakup, and her friends have moved away or betrayed her. Not even her parents will help her. They are too tired to help her. In a different mood, the book wouldn’t have triggered her attack. She could write if she weren’t so alone. On a different day, “Upstream Color” would have been just another movie.

Dunham has said that she suffers from OCD during times of extreme stress. Like her character, she counted in eights, and touched herself before bed. But despite our desire to use “Girls” as a lens on the youth of America, “Girls” is TV show, a half-hour comedy mixed with drama. (A dramedy? A sitcomerama?) Dunham could have had Hannah suffer from any anxiety disorder; OCD was an aesthetic choice, one chosen to say something about the character, one chosen to say something, perhaps, about writing.

As Lopate tells us,

Obsession tends to go nowhere. I have met obsessive types in my wanderings, and mostly they were pretty boring. Obsessives repeat themselves, while ignoring other people or stories breaking around them; it’s an exceedingly redundant form of thinking, so I’m not sure how useful it is in the production of nonfiction.

Hannah’s obsessions occlude everyone else from view. Hannah’s obsessions make it impossible to tell anyone else’s story. In a moment of desperation, her editor suggests making her memoir into a novel. He’s giving her a way to focus only on her self, to stay inward. Hannah refuses to listen.

The meeting with the editor is essential for understanding what Dunham is trying to do in “Girls.” Her editor fixates on her sex scenes and tells her to make up sex if she isn’t having it. The viewer cannot miss the reflexiveness of the situation: uncomfortable sex is the most talked about aspect of “Girls.” It was the centerpiece of Emily Nussbaum’s trendsetting New York magazine cover story. We fixate on Dunham’s body, and what it says that she’s willing to undress in nearly every episode. The focus on sex and nudity seems obsessive, taboo-busting for the sake of taboo-busting, or for the sake of verisimilitude. The editor wants her to concentrate on uncomfortable sex because he is a part of this media culture: he knows, with the right promotion, it will start a dialogue about her book.

That Hannah doesn’t immediately start writing about sex tells us something about “Girls.” The moment is a way of getting us to see that Dunham writes about sex not out of obsession with the act and with how uncomfortable it can be, but because of what it says about the people involved. Sex and intimacy are not the same. People lie about themselves in the bedroom. They hide their tastes, their fetishes, their true selves. Hannah’s ex, Adam, doesn’t know if he can be himself around his new girlfriend, a fact brought home in discomfiting, even horrifying fashion. A failed sexual encounter early in the season punctured the gloss of perfection around Marnie. Sex shows us what the show really is. When all is said and done, “Girls” is not a show about the lostness of a generation, but another show about relationships: how difficult they are, how isolating, how hard it is to tell what matters.

Everyone who suffers from anxiety problems knows their double-edge. Anxiety can make it impossible to work. Anxiety can shut you inside your apartment, indulging in your worst habits. Anxiety forces you to leave, or forbids you from entering. But anxiety can also be what lets you connect to others, what lets you write, what lets you remember what is important. You’re never quite sure if it’s a gift or a curse.


Season of Freedom


Barriers To Achievement


When Bakers Do Matzo

Mindfulness for OCD and Anxiety

Choosing a Different Route on the Anxiety Highway

Mindfulness can greatly enhance traditional
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for the
treatment of OCD and Anxiety

“Mindfulness” seems to be everywhere these days.  In the culture at large, mindfulness is becoming a common practice for many as a means to finding basic peace of mind. And in the field of mental health, mindfulness is quickly coming to be seen as a technique that can help relieve symptoms of OCD, anxiety, and other psychological conditions.

After reading the above paragraph, you may be thinking, “Sign me up!” After all, we live in an era of instant gratification, and most of us usually want a quick fix to our problems. But mindfulness is not something one masters overnight. It is a journey that requires effort, commitment, and dedication. While mindfulness may provide relatively rapid relief to one’s distress in certain situations, it is perhaps better conceptualized as a long-term shift in perspective that allows us to better manage the complexity of human psychological experience. Like learning a new language, mindfulness takes time and patience to master, and ongoing effort to remain fluent.

So what exactly is mindfulness, and how does it apply to OCD and anxiety?  A simple definition of mindfulness is that it is the practiced skill of non-judgmental awareness and acceptance of our present-moment experience, including all of our unwanted thoughts, feelings, sensations, and urges. Mindfulness teaches us to accept all of our unwanted internal experiences as a part of life, regardless of whether they are “good” or “bad”.  When treating OCD and related anxiety disorders, mindfulness is a tool that can supplement and enhance Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which is the gold standard for managing these conditions.

Mindfulness originated in ancient eastern philosophy, and is based on the premise that our attachment to feeling good and our aversion to feeling bad are the cause of much of our suffering.  Much of the time, when things are difficult, we take up compulsive or avoidant behaviors in an attempt to make ourselves feel better.  I often joke with clients about the fact that we never find ourselves running out of our bedroom with our arms flailing above our heads screaming in fear, “Oh my, I am so happy! Why am I so happy?  What if I am happy forever?  What should I do?”  We only do this when what we are experiencing something we perceive as being “bad” or “wrong” or “unwanted”.

When discussing Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and anxiety with clients, I often suggest that we conceptualize life as a metaphorical drive in the wilderness.  Imagine that you are driving a convertible car along a beautiful country road.  The roof is down and you are enjoying your surroundings. All of a sudden, a wave of anxiety comes over you.  You are hit with all sorts of wild thoughts and begin experiencing uncomfortable feelings that seem to come out of nowhere.  You quickly begin to feel so overwhelmed that you pull over.  After sitting on the side of the road for awhile, you realize that it all feels too scary to keep going.  After thinking it through to a point of exhaustion, you make yourself begin driving.

Out of desperation, you quickly put the roof up and roll the windows up as well.  You promise yourself that you won’t look out the windows just in case you might see something that will scare you again.  You fix your eyes on the road and won’t let yourself even dare to look out the windows.  If the anxiety gets bad enough, you may even shut your eyes tight and try to make your way home without looking.   Or you may call your family members or friends and make them reassure you that everything will be OK.  You may find yourself saying over and over again, “Do not think about anything that makes me anxious right now!” or “Just think good thoughts!”  When you return home, you may even vow to never go on that road again.  And if you must drive that road again, you may ask someone to come with you in order to ensure that nothing goes wrong throughout the entire drive.

Does any of this ring true for you?  Do you find yourself experiencing any of these common reactions to anxiety.  When we experience the discomfort of anxiety, we often move directly into reaction mode in an effort to control our feelings.  Or, we try to escape them at all costs.  Understanding our anxiety can be very difficult when it hits so hard and so fast.   Whether our anxiety is completely irrational (common in OCD and other anxiety disorders) or realistic (financial stress at home, relationship issues etc.), we can benefit if we stop to look at our reaction and see if it justifies the amount of energy we are giving it.

Below, I am going to walk you through a few easy steps that can help you be more mindful when faced with fear.  These simple steps can also be helpful when dealing with strong addictive urges, depression, and even pain. Using mindfulness, you can learn to view your unwanted thoughts and feelings in a more peaceful and non-reactive way, and strengthen your ability to sit with your discomfort.  Please note, this doesn’t mean that we are going to promote struggling or pain.  It simply means we are going to focus on learning to better accept unwanted thoughts and feelings, and on responding to them with fewer counter-productive behaviors.

Step One: Become Aware of Your Feelings

When we are anxious, we often react to our thoughts and feelings before we even know they are there.  Often, our clients report that they are performing compulsive behaviors before they even know that they are anxious.  Others report that while they may notice their feelings when they occur, they then focus all of their energy on trying to get away from them as fast as possible.  Step one is to slow down and notice what you are feeling.  Are you anxious? Irritable? Sad? Annoyed? Embarrassed?  Where do you feel it?  Is it in your chest?  Shoulders?  Stomach?  Is it racing in your mind or is it a sensation of heaviness in your entire body?  Don’t run from it.  Notice it.  Don’t immediately react.  Inquire first!

Step Two: Identify Your Feelings

Once we notice an unwanted feeling, we can choose to label it as “just a feeling”, and we can then begin to understand how our minds send us into reaction instead of acceptance.  When we identify what is really going on (discomfort), and not what our anxiety tells us is going on (unbearable catastrophe), then we can begin to work with it instead of against it.  Consider that while our unwanted thoughts and feelings may “feel” real, they may not be accurate or even remotely realistic.  It is often helpful to identify our thoughts and feelings as just thoughts or just feelings, not truths that are worthy of so much attention.

Step Three: View Your Feelings in a Non-Judgmental Way

Instead of saying, “I hate these feelings” or “these thoughts are very bad,” try to just look at the event and reply with something along the lines of “This event is just what it is”.  Taking a non-judgmental stance allows you to understand the event from a rational, objective point of view, instead of a biased and subjective point of view.  If you are struggling with this, you may find that talking with a therapist who is trained in mindfulness or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) can help you immensely.

Step Four: Consider Other Behavioral Options

Once you begin to understand and label what is really going on, you can begin to consider other non-compulsive and non-avoidant options. When we are hit with a blast of anxiety, it may feel like a huge tidal wave that will destroy us.  In OCD and other anxiety disorders, we often move directly from experiencing an unwanted thought, feeling, or sensation, into immediately reacting.  We just want to make it all go away as soon as possible.  But we have the option of choosing to slow down and seeing how our brains have created an event that feels far more threatening than it actually is.  Perhaps putting the top up and rolling the windows up is not be the best idea!

Step Five: Take Action…By Not Reacting

This is the moment of truth.  In step five, you will have to be willing to take a risk and challenge your thoughts and feelings by not responding in a compulsive or avoidant manner.  You will have to be willing to experience discomfort instead of the relief of immediately being comforted.  This is a bold and courageous step.  It requires a full commitment to feeling your discomfort.  And this is where you will really begin to free yourself from the behaviors that have reduced the quality of your life.  In this step, you will make the decision to open your self to experiencing the unwanted thoughts, feelings, or sensations that you find so uncomfortable.

This is the moment where you have two options.  You can choose to avoid and/or control your thoughts, feelings, and sensations, or you can choose to allow the moment to be what it is.  It is the moment where you decide to either pull over and get short-term relief, or to sit with short-term discomfort in the hope of improving your long-term experience of life.

Step Six: Feel the Curves of the Road Beneath You

If you are willing to commit to sitting with your discomfort and getting back on the road, this step will help you to do it without doing compulsions.  Step six is all about just feeling the curves of the road beneath you and not trying to control or change anything about your experience.  Sit back and just be in the moment, letting the road and the wheels take you over all the bumps and sharp corners.  Take notice of the view, without placing any expectations on how the view “should” look, or how you “should” feel.  Let the car take the corners, without trying to hold on too tight.  Often, when we loosen our grip on how we want things to be and allow some flexibility, we enjoy our experience much more.

Accept whatever discomfort you are experiencing.  Befriend it and learn that it is rarely the horror that you fear it will be.  It is almost never the catastrophe that we anticipate.  I find it is often helpful to implement some kind of breathing training at this step.  Try to breathe into whatever it is that you are experiencing.  Breathe and take notice of your breath as you observe what your body is feeling.

The main goal of mindfulness is to accept whatever comes your way.  Pot holes!  Fear!  Cracks in the pavement!!  Irritability!  Huge hills!  Panic! Areas where there is no pavement at all!  Feeling out of control!  Try to take on each obstacle as it arrives, without anticipating or planning for a specific outcome.  Before you know it, you will be home and you will look back and be glad you took the drive.

Kimberley Quinlan, MA, is a psychotherapist at the the OCD Center of Los Angeles, a private, outpatient clinic specializing in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for the treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and related conditions.  She can be contacted kimberley@ocdla.com.

Image: “Country Roads” © Capn Madd Matt – Used under a Creative Commons license.

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Nothing fashionable about anxiety



Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a serious illness that society has made fashionable, says an Otago University psychologist.

The newfound “popularity” of OCD had led to people “pulling out the textbook and ticking their symptoms off”, according to senior lecturer Chris Gale, who specialises in anxiety disorders.

“The Americans are in the habit of diagnosing everything and everyone, but we don’t actually need to medicate everything.”

He said it was of growing concern that people made light of OCD and compared a few individual quirks to a debilitating illness that can stop people functioning.

“The key thing to measure is the threshold for treatment, and to actually have a disorder it has to be making your life a misery.”

The Phobic Trust, which supports and treats people with anxiety disorders, was also concerned about how “loosely” some people used the illness to describe their own behaviours.

“It’s important that people with certain traits, such as liking things clean or ordered, are not necessarily confused with people who genuinely suffer from OCD,” a spokeswoman said.

Those at the extreme end had their day-to-day lives constantly interrupted. “For those who have severe OCD, it would be very hard to hold down a job or just function in life.

“Leaving the house and getting things done would be extremely difficult.”

For some OCD sufferers, their illness carried a real stigma that made it difficult to confide in friends and family.

“Some of the people we see are very secretive about it and, although we encourage them to tell their family, many choose not to disclose it,” she said.

Psychologists have yet to find middle ground on an approp- riate threshold for treating and medicating OCD, from which about 3 per cent of the population suffers.

OCD is an anxiety disorder causing unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations, obsessions or behaviours that make the sufferer feel driven to do certain things.

“Sometimes it might be an experience that triggered it but for others it’s brain wiring,” the spokeswoman said.

“There are also cases where there is a genetic predisposition, and more than one person in the family has it.”

OCD ON SCREEN

Tony Shalhoub as Monk in the American detective series of the same name.

Jack Nicholson as Melvin Udall in the movie As Good As it Gets.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes in The Aviator.

Nicolas Cage as Roy Waller in Matchstick Men.

Jack Lemmon as Felix Unger in The Odd Couple.

Leonardo DiCaprio says he has to stop himself from letting it take over his life.

Billy Bob Thornton is versed in repetitive compulsive actions, and has a phobia of antique furniture.

Charles Darwin showed classic signs of suffering from OCD.

David Beckham is obsessed with symmetry and hates odd numbers.

Michelangelo is believed to have had it.

– © Fairfax NZ News



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Gitmo: The national anxiety disorder

Sam Sacks is a political commentator and journalist, the last five years spent covering politics in Washington, DC.

Ask the United States why the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is still open, and you’ll see only irrational answers and fear in return.

Ask someone with an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) about
his or her often bizarre and inexplicable habits – like not walking
on cracks, endlessly washing their hands, and counting things over
and over again – and they’ll have trouble explaining exactly why
they do it.

That’s because OCD is a mental disorder. From the US National Institute of Mental Health:
“People with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have
persistent, upsetting thoughts (obsessions) and use rituals
(compulsions) to control the anxiety these thoughts produce. Most
of the time, the rituals end up controlling them.

The International OCD Foundation notes, “If you
have OCD, the warning system in your brain is not working
correctly. Your brain is telling you that you are in danger when
you are not.”

Sufferers genuinely believe that, for example, if they don’t
keep their books organized in a very specific way, then something
terrible might happen to them or their family. It makes no sense,
but they still do it, again and again and again.

They don’t understand that the danger is not real.

Now ask the United States why the prison facility at Guantanamo
Bay, Cuba is still open. You’ll get the same fidgeting, the same
irrational answers, and most importantly, the same fear. America
also doesn’t understand that the danger is not real.

As Bloomberg Businessweek pointed out:

“Of the 150,000 murders in the U.S. between 9/11 and the end
of 2010, Islamic extremism accounted for fewer than three dozen. Since 2000, the chance
that a resident of the U.S. would die in a terrorist attack was one
in 3.5 million, according to John Mueller of Ohio State
University,and Mark Stewart of the University of Newcastle. In
fact, extremist Islamic terrorism resulted in just 200 to 400
deaths worldwide outside the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq—the
same number, Mueller noted in a 2011 report (PDF), as die in bathtubs in
the U.S. alone each year.”

In other words, Gitmo serves a better purpose keeping us safe
from the bathtubs that are installed there than the so-called
terrorists imprisoned there. 

But, out of fear, we tell ourselves that as long as we have that
prison down in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, then the “terrorists” are down
there, in cages, unable to plot against us. We get some peace of
mind; we can sleep easier. Gitmo open = family safe.

And then we don’t think about it. But, as soon as there’s talk
about closing Gitmo, then all our wild delusions of fear well up
inside. Members of Congress are outraged!

For example, when President Obama’s first attempt to close the
facility in May of 2009 was rebuffed by the Senate, which voted
90-6 to block $80 million in funding to close Gitmo, Senator John
Thune (R-SD) made the argument, “The American people don’t
want these men walking the streets of America’s neighborhoods.”

He added, “The American people don’t want these detainees held
at a military base or federal prison in their backyard,
either.”

Later, in 2011, Senate Republicans attempted to pass legislation
to codify Gitmo as the primary detention facility for future
detainees. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, “Whatever image problems that linger
around Guantanamo Bay pale in comparison to the risk of not having
a prison.”

Graham’s comments came one month after Wikileaks revealed the
truth about Gitmo. In releasing 700 secret government documents on
hundreds of Gitmo detainees, in April 2011, Wikileaks gave us
Americans some much-needed therapy about our Gitmo compulsion. We
were told that Gitmo isn’t necessary to keep us safe.

It’s true, of the 166 prisoners still at Gitmo, roughly 120 are
considered “high risk.” Although, Wikileaks revealed that 160 “high
risk” prisoners have already been transferred out of the facility
to other countries or freed altogether.

Among a myriad of other problems with Gitmo, all can be found
here, we
also learned that many of those “terrorists” imprisoned at the
facility were only there because they had the wrong wristwatch.

The Telegraph reported, “People wearing a certain model of
Casio watch from the 1980s were seized by American forces in
Afghanistan on suspicion of being terrorists, because the watches
were used as timers by Al-Qaeda.”

Also, “At least…150 people are innocent Afghans or
Pakistanis, including farmers, chefs and drivers who were rounded
up or even sold to US forces and transferred across the world. In
the top-secret documents, senior US commanders conclude that in
dozens of cases there is ‘no reason recorded for
transfer.’”

And, to those who, like Senator John Thune, say Gitmo must
remain open because it’s too dangerous to hold these men in
facilities within the United States or try them in traditional
courts, consider this: Currently, there are 355 people convicted of terrorism charges
already being held in U.S. prisons. None have
escaped. 

Osama Bin Laden’s son-in-law faced a judge in a courtroom in New
York City earlier this month to plead not guilty to terrorism
charges. And guess what? Not a single New Yorker was injured or put
in danger during the arraignment. 

Gitmo does not keep some irrational danger at bay. In fact, just
like most OCD habits, it gets in the way of us living a normal,
healthy lifestyle. It’s the nation’s most expensive prison facility per capita, with
more than a million dollars spent annually on each inmate. It’s
also a foreign policy black eye on the United States that darkens
each year it stays open.

It’s the setting for torture, indefinite detention, military
tribunals censored from the media, and suicide (six inmates have
taken their own lives so far). As has been routinely said, the only
way out of Gitmo these days, tragically, is in a body bag. It’s
also been widely reported that Gitmo is used as a
terrorist recruiting tool abroad. 

For these reasons, the international community has, time and
time again, attempted to hold an intervention with us. The European
Union, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Amnesty
International, Human Rights Watch, and other organizations,
governments, and activists around the world have called for the
closure of Gitmo.

But, rather than taking the lead on this, the President enables
this irrational fear to continue. Bush and Cheney may have been the
trigger for it, but President Obama has cultivated it. He’s given
in to the national OCD. His promise on day one of his presidency to
close Gitmo has been the signature, unfulfilled promise of his
administration.

And today, nearly two years after the Wikileaks revelations,
four years after President Obama was first sworn in, and more than
a decade after the facility began housing prisoners of our endless
“War on Terror,” prospects for closing Gitmo have never been
dimmer.

At the start of 2013, the State Department office created in
2009 to specifically handle the closure of Gitmo was shut down. The special envoy in charge,
Daniel Fried, was reassigned. His position will be left vacant.

In the President’s State of the Union Address in February, there
was no mention of Gitmo at all. Prisoners at Gitmo actually watched
the address, hoping for some nugget of sanity to emerge regarding
their fate.

Marine Corps General John Kelly told the House Armed Services Committee about
the Gitmo inmates’ reactions to the speech, “They had great
optimism that Guantanamo would be closed. They were devastated
apparently … when the President backed off, at least [that’s]
their perception, of closing the facility.”

Today, many of those prisoners are on a hunger strike. This
week, the military confirmed that the number of detainees on a
hunger strike has more than tripled from 7 to 25. Attorneys for the
inmates claim, “Over two dozen men have lost consciousness.”
Eight of them are now being force-fed through a feeding tube in
their stomach. Apparently, that one option of leaving Gitmo in a
body bag has now been taken off the table.

Yet, reports just this week indicate that the
Pentagon is considering a $150 million renovation of the prison
camp. As though an upgrade of the dining hall will ease the
concerns of hunger-striking inmates suffering from racist and
Kafkaesque incarceration.

On top of that, the American people still overwhelmingly support
continuing our compulsive behavior of keeping Gitmo open. A 2012
Washington Post/ABC News poll showed 70% of American support keeping
Gitmo open, including more than half of “liberal Democrats” and
two-thirds of “moderate Democrats.”

We just can’t shake the fear.

And so, Gitmo just sits there, mostly emptied. It’s held nearly
800 inmates. There were only 242 left when President Obama took
office. And today, it’s down to 166 souls, trapped.  Of that,
86 have been approved for release, but are barred from leaving.
Plus, 25 are on a hunger strike.

The President, who will be a lame duck in two years, is focused
on the economy, immigration and gun control. There’s no time to
talk about Gitmo anymore.

It will stay open indefinitely, giving us “peace of mind” as we
continue our “war on terror” descent into national madness.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Comments (3)

Anonymous user 22.03.2013 22:17

Not only does USA lie about closing, they are spending 50 mil to build a new one!
Lies, lies, lies!

Anonymous user 22.03.2013 19:00

US only wants to keep jailing anyone opposed to its’ terror War vs. World. Any excuse will do.

Anonymous user 22.03.2013 18:49

Eurasian: You fella witness the reserection of the Spanish Inquisition! Nazism wasnt enough 4 them

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The Heart, a Home under Construction

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. —John 14:2

When Charlotte moved in with me in January of 2005, my Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder surged with such searing intensity that I had to schedule an emergency session with my therapist. I sought treatment in the first place because every time I tried to date someone, electric anxiety coursed through my central nervous system, threatening to trip all the breakers in my body.

“I don’t get it, Troy,” I said to my therapist, who diagnosed me with OCD in August of 2004.

“It’s not like I’m dating Charlotte—she’s a cat, for crying out loud! Why am I freaking out?”

One of my housemate’s coworkers needed to find a home for Charlotte, and I agreed to adopt her. I always wanted a cat to call my own, so I was shocked when my body betrayed me after I took her home.

“How will I ever love this cat if I’m so anxious about her?” I asked Troy. “If all I feel is fear, how will there ever be room in my heart for affection?”

I use the phrase “room in my heart” because I have long thought of the human heart as a physical space. I asked Jesus to live in my heart when I was nine, after all, and I figured that meant my heart had to be a home of some sort.

“Do you really feel like you’re incapable of loving that cat, Chad?” Troy asked. “Just because you feel that way doesn’t mean it’s true.”

The idea that feelings are not necessarily facts—especially for someone with OCD—challenged what I thought I knew about my situation with Charlotte. Sure, my heart was filled to capacity with anxiety, and then some. But did that mean I couldn’t add a wing to the home in my heart?

“What if you give yourself permission to keep your kitty for awhile, and just see what happens?” Troy asked.

This seemed like a reasonable idea to me. Maybe—just maybe—my anxious heart could make room for such a small creature.

I imagined a crew of construction workers toiling tirelessly in my heart to add an annex for Charlotte. In a matter of days, my heart became a cat’s home.

The same sorts of obsessive thoughts and feelings that interfered with adopting Charlotte had derailed all of my dating experiences, as strange as that may sound. With time, Troy helped me understand how to transfer what I learned from my experience with Charlotte to dating.

As I made progress in therapy, more room opened up in my heart. Four months after I brought Charlotte home, I adopted a second cat.

When my wife Becki and I married, she brought her three cats into my life, too. Just like that, my heart became a cattery.

Eighteen months into our marriage, Becki and I decided the spare bedroom in our house should belong to a baby. During her pregnancy with our daughter Evie, however, Becki worried she might not have room in her heart for a child.

“What if I don’t love her enough?” she asked. “I want to be a good mom, but I don’t know if I’m capable of being one.”

While I wondered how anxiety and affection could coexist in my heart, Becki wondered if her heart was too impoverished to ever lavish Evie with love. If Becki imagined a construction crew building a place for Evie, she probably pictured them cobbling together the shoddiest of sheds in her heart’s backyard.

I had seen how my own heart had expanded to accommodate Charlotte, so I told Becki I believed her heart would do the same for Evie—regardless of what she thought. Becki, who has always adored Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, knew the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes by the end of Seuss’s story. She hoped hers would enlarge for our little Cindy Lou Who, too.

During the second half of Evie’s first six months out of the womb, we hired construction crews to repair the foundation in our living room. The water table beneath our property had shifted, causing the floor to bow up, and ceramic tiles to crack underfoot.

The first crew jackhammered our old foundation, coating everything in our home in concrete dust, and leaving us with a dirt floor in our living room for a weekend. Our cats, who never leave our house, rolled on the bare ground, rejoicing that the outdoors had come indoors—just for them. After the workers installed new rebar and poured concrete, we scheduled a second group of contractors to install our laminate flooring.

The floorers had no openings until a month after the first crew finished its work. This meant we waited a month for them to visit and tell us that, while the floor was level by construction standards, it was not level enough for laminate installation.

We hired a third contractor to fix a few especially problematic places with a concrete grinder. He coated everything in our home with another complementary layer of concrete dust.

By the time the laminate company succeeded in installing our floor, Becki realized her heart had undergone renovations of its own, unbeknownst to her. None of the renovations involved building a shed either.

“I can’t believe how much I love Evie,” she said to me. “I love her more than I ever imagined I could.”

We knew parenthood would bring with it a wrecking ball that would demolish certain selfish parts of our hearts whether we liked it or not—we knew it would be difficult, too. But when the dust settled after the destruction, Becki found that her heart had become a mansion with infinite rooms for Evie to enjoy.

 This post is excerpted from Chad Thomas Johnston’s forthcoming e-book, Nightmarriage. Pre-order here [http://chadthomasjohnston.com/2012/10/pre-order-ctjs-nightmarriage-ebook-now/] for 20% off and receive a free audio version of the book when it becomes available.

Healthy Living: Anxiety Disorders

Most Common Type of Mental Health Problem
By- Dr. David Prescott

More than 40 million Americans have Anxiety Disorders: Nearly 18% of American adults experience some type of clinical anxiety disorder. This makes anxiety disorders one of the most common types of mental health problems. Learning the different types of anxiety disorders is an important step in overcoming them and reducing the negative impact of anxiety on your life.

Normal Anxiety vs. Anxiety Disorders: It is entirely normal for people to experience anxiety. In fact, many of us perform better (for example at work, school, athletics) when we are mildly anxious. The line between normal anxiety and an anxiety disorder has to do with the intensity of anxiety, the frequency of periods of extreme anxiety, and how much anxiety interferes with your daily activities. When anxiety becomes intense, frequent, and prevents you from completing your work, family commitments, or daily tasks, it may be time to seek help.

Types of Anxiety Disorders:

Social Phobia: Social phobia (most common type of anxiety disorder) is a strong fear of being judged by others and of being embarrassed. People with social phobia are afraid of doing common things in front of other people. For example, they might be afraid to sign a check in front of a cashier at the grocery store, or they might be afraid to eat or drink in front of other people, or use a public restroom. Most people who have social phobia know that they shouldn’t be as afraid as they are, but they can’t control their fear.
Panic Disorder: Panic disorder involves sudden, intense and unprovoked feelings of terror and dread. People who suffer from this disorder generally develop strong fears about when and where their next panic attack will occur, and they often restrict their activities as a result. The most common age of onset for panic disorder is in the early twenties.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): People with GAD are extremely worried about these and many other things, even when there is little or no reason to worry about them. They are very anxious about just getting through the day. They think things will always go badly. At times, worrying keeps people with GAD from doing everyday tasks. Often, people with GAD will visit their doctor for problems like headaches or difficulty falling asleep.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: True obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) occurs less frequently than other types of anxiety disorders, impacting about 1% of the adult population. People with OCD feel the need to check things repeatedly, or have certain thoughts or perform routines and rituals over and over. Examples of common compulsions include washing hands or cleaning house excessively for fear of germs, or checking work repeatedly for errors.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Someone who suffers severe physical or emotional trauma such as from a natural disaster or serious accident or crime may experience post-traumatic stress disorder. Thoughts, feelings and behavior patterns become seriously affected by reminders of the event, sometimes months or even years after the traumatic experience. Unfortunately, many new cases of post-traumatic stress disorder have occurred in people who served in combat situations. The current prevalence of PTSD is estimated to be around 7.7% of the population.

Treatment for Anxiety Disorders:
Treatments for anxiety disorders include counseling, or psychotherapy, and for some people medications. Counseling techniques for anxiety disorders are highly effective, and typically involve changing anxiety provoking thought patterns, or learning to encounter a feared situation in a state of increased relaxation.
Medications for anxiety disorders may include specific medications to reduce physiological anxiety, or for some people antidepressant medications. Antidepressant medications often take a few weeks before they have their full benefit.
For any type of treatment, people may contact a licensed psychologist or other mental health professional, or talk with their primary care physician.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
American Psychological Association: www.apa.org/helpcenter

National Institute of Mental Health: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/

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Postpartum depression can be red flag for other psychiatric illnesses

More than one in five women who have postpartum depression also suffer from bipolar disorder, and many also experience anxiety disorders and have thoughts of harming themselves, according to a new study described as the largest scale screening for depression among new mothers in the United States.

The study, published online by The Journal of the American Medical Association’s JAMA Psychiatry, screened 10,000 new mothers and conducted in-home visits with more than 800 who were found to be at risk, providing researchers with a greater understanding of the onset and complications associated with postpartum depression.

While it confirmed that depression most commonly arises between four to six weeks after the birth of a child, it found that 33 per cent of cases occurred during pregnancy and nearly 27 per cent of patients experienced depression before conception.

“Because a majority of the mothers had symptoms before delivery …, we really might need to consider depression screening early on,” said psychiatrist Dorothy Sit of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, one of the co-authors of the study. “We may be waiting until [it] could be too late for some of these mothers.”

The study’s findings largely support what was previously known about postpartum depression. The condition is believed to affect between 10 and 20 per cent of new mothers, and can last up to a year after the birth of a child. (Nearly 14 per cent of mothers involved in the study screened positive for depression.)

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, references to postpartum depression date as far back as the 4th century BC, but since it has not always been recognized as an illness, it is often underdiagnosed.

The definitive causes for the condition have yet to be confirmed, but researchers are investigating its links to biological factors, such as the major dip in hormone levels experienced after delivery, genetics, sleep deprivation and stress on circadian rhythms, and psycho-social risks, including lack of support.

Sit noted that her study’s findings suggest postpartum depression is a complicated form of depression; physicians and patients need to be mindful of addressing possible additional diagnoses, including bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, social phobia and generalized anxiety. In some cases, these other disorders may be underlying conditions that are not identified until after the patients give birth.

Despite its prevalence, however, it can be difficult for new mothers to recognize they have depression, in part, because of the chaos involved in caring for a newborn and dealing with the transition to parenthood.

“Some mothers and family members could write it off as being part of the normal experience,” Sit said, but she noted that besides extreme fatigue and an inability to focus or concentrate, common signs of postpartum depression include not being able to enjoy the things one used to enjoy, not getting pleasure out of spending time with one’s family and the newborn, sleeping excessively, not eating, and feeling anxious about things that never previously caused worry.

“This is not a normal part of the postpartum,” Sit emphasized. “Those symptoms truly indicate it’s a major depression.”

Sit noted that it is important to treat depression as early as possible, especially as the study found that nearly 20 per cent of new mothers who suffer from it have thoughts of hurting themselves.

Treatment must also be tailored to address other possible disorders, since medications prescribed for depression can make patients with bipolar disorder worse. Antidepressants, for instance, can result in mania, rapid cycling, loss of sleep, agitation and irritability among those with bipolar disorder, who instead would benefit from mood-stabilizing drugs.

Patients with anxiety may also have a better chance of improving with a combination of medication and psychotherapy.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Affects 11% Of Post-Natal Women, Study …

Post-natal OCD may be a previously unrecognised mental problem faced by many women after giving birth, new research suggests.

Experts estimate that about 11% of women who have recently given birth experience symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder, compared with 2% to 3% of the general population.

The incidence rate is almost the same as that for post-natal depression, which affects around one in 10 new mothers.

Scientists suspect the conditions may be two sides of the same psychological coin.

OCD: Could Bacteria Be The Cause?

Symptoms are generally focused on the baby and include fears about accidental injury, dirt or germs and obsessive checking for mistakes.

In about half the cases investigated, OCD behaviour began to improve after about six months. However, some women only begin to display symptoms this long after delivery and the risk remains for up to a year after giving birth.

“It may be that certain kinds of obsessions or compulsions are adaptive and appropriate for a new parent, for example those about cleanliness and hygiene,” said lead researcher Dr Dana Gossett, from Northwestern University in Illinois, US.

“But when it interferes with normal day-to-day functioning and appropriate care for the baby and parent, it becomes maladaptive and pathologic.”

OCD is a mental condition characterised by obsessive and frightening thoughts, and an irresistible urge to dispel them.

This can result in repetitive actions, such as constantly washing hands or mental rituals that include counting or avoiding “unlucky” colours. In severe cases the disorder can have a devastating effect on work and social life.

OCD may be triggered by stress, which could explain its association with pregnancy and childbirth, say the scientists.

BLOG: How I Live With Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Manifestations of post-natal OCD include washing and re-washing bottles, and constantly checking that a baby is still breathing or that its cot is secure.

Some women report intrusive fears that they might harm their baby.

The researchers recruited 461 women in hospital to have a baby and screened them for anxiety, depression and OCD.

Tests were carried out two weeks after giving birth and six months after the women had gone home.

The results, published in The Journal of Reproductive Medicine, showed an OCD rate among the women of 11% – around five times the risk for the general population.

About half the women reported an improvement in their symptoms by six months. But some women who had not experienced OCD symptoms at two weeks only then began to suffer them.

About 70% of women who screened positive for OCD were also found to be suffering from depression.

“There is some debate as to whether post-partum (post-natal) depression is simply a major depressive episode that happens after birth, or its own disease with its own features,” said co-author Dr Emily Miller, also from Northwestern University.

“Our study supports the idea that it may be its own disease with more of the anxiety and obsessive-compulsive symptoms than would be typical for a major depressive episode.”

Related on HuffPost:

Obsessive disorder overdiagnosed, expert says

  • Obsessive disorder overdiagnosed, expert says  (Source: Photos.com)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a serious illness that society has made fashionable, says an Otago University psychologist.

Senior lecturer Chris Gale, who specialises in anxiety disorders, said the newfound popularity of OCD had people led to “pulling out the textbook and ticking their symptoms off”.

“The Americans are in the habit of diagnosing everything and everyone, but we don’t actually need to medicate everything.”

He said it was of growing concern that people made light of OCD and compared a few individual quirks to a debilitating illness that could stop people functioning.

“The key thing to measure is the threshold for treatment, and to actually have a disorder it has to be making your life a misery.”

The Phobic Trust, which supports and treats people with anxiety disorders, was also concerned about how “loosely” some people used the illness to describe their own behaviours.

“It’s important that people with certain traits, such as liking things clean or ordered, are not necessarily confused with people who genuinely suffer from OCD,” a spokeswoman said.

Those at the extreme end had their day-to-day lives constantly interrupted. “For those who have severe OCD, it would be very hard to hold down a job or just function in life.

“Leaving the house and getting things done would be extremely difficult.”

For some OCD sufferers, their illness carried a real stigma that made it difficult to confide in friends and family.

“Some of the people we see are very secretive about it and, although we encourage them to tell their family, many choose not to disclose it,” she said.

Psychologists have yet to find middle ground on an appropriate threshold for treating and medicating OCD, from which about 3% of the population suffers.

OCD is an anxiety disorder causing unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations, obsessions or behaviours that make the sufferer feel driven to do certain things.

“Sometimes it might be an experience that triggered it but for others it’s brain wiring,” the spokeswoman said.

“There are also cases where there is a genetic predisposition, and more than one person in the family has it.”

OCD ON SCREEN

Tony Shalhoub as Monk in the American detective series of the same name.

Jack Nicholson as Melvin Udall in the movie As Good As it Gets.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes in The Aviator.

Nicolas Cage as Roy Waller in Matchstick Men.

Jack Lemmon as Felix Unger in The Odd Couple.

Leonardo DiCaprio says he has to stop himself from letting it take over his life.

Billy Bob Thornton is versed in repetitive compulsive actions, and has a phobia of antique furniture.

Charles Darwin showed classic signs of suffering from OCD.

David Beckham is obsessed with symmetry and hates odd numbers.

Michelangelo is believed to have had it.

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OCD Info for Law Enforcement

You arrive on scene of a single vehicle injury accident; paramedics are en route.  A young man is outside a car that is wrapped around a tree.  His clothes are bloody and he has a large laceration across his forehead.  He is the only victim.  He is clearly agitated; pacing, wringing his hands and is counting to seven over and over again.  As you try to redirect him away from the smoking car his agitation increases and he begins screaming about the blood and the germs and tells you to back away….

Your partner is driving you crazy.  Every time you leave the car he remotely locks and unlocks the doors repeatedly.  In the car, everything has its place.  Deviation of more than ¼” results in a readjustment.  He dusts his perfectly polished shoes after every call.  He wouldn’t be caught dead without gloves.  Yet, his attention to detail makes him one of the best cops on the watch.

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by a subject’s obsessive and repetitive intrusive thoughts followed by related compulsions (tasks or rituals) which attempt to neutralize the obsessions.  It is one of several forms of an anxiety disorder.  OCD symptoms cause anguish, take up a lot of time (more than an hour a day), or significantly interfere with the person’s work, social life, or relationships. Unlike other compulsive behaviors (drinking or gambling) OCD compulsions do not give the person pleasure.

Most people are at least a little OCD.  However, as you look at the symptoms of OCD, you need to evaluate degrees of severity.  Only 2½ percent of the U.S. population has true OCD, the lifetime prevalence of the disorder is 5%.  Many more people demonstrate obsessive compulsive traits. Under most circumstances, those traits will not interfere with a person’s life the way that an obsessive compulsive disorder does.  However, having these traits is considered as risk factors for developing the disorder. 

Can you leave your home without it being totally tidy? Do you crave reassurance? Do you find yourself rechecking things? Do you re-read/re-write your reports many times? How about repeatedly counting in your head?  Do you have excessive superstitions?  How far out of your way do you go to avoid walking under a ladder? Do you have lucky socks or a lucky color or number you repetitively wear or play? These all could be symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder.

The Facts

OCD typically begins during adolescence or early childhood and effects men and women equally. It is a brain disorder, a medical disease that causes problems in information processing. On average, people with OCD see 3-4 doctors and spend over 9 years seeking treatment before they receive a correct diagnosis. Sufferers are generally of above-average intelligence, as the very nature of the disorder necessitates complicated thinking patterns.

The OCD Process and Diagnosis

Obsessions are recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that cause marked anxiety or distress, which is not related to real-life problems. The sufferer attempts to ignore or suppress such thoughts, impulses, or images, or to neutralize them with some other thought or action. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts that the person feels driven to perform in response to an obsession, or according to rules that must be applied rigidly. The behaviors or mental acts are aimed at preventing or reducing distress or preventing some dreaded event or situation. The person recognizes that the obsessive thoughts, impulses, or images are a product of his or her own mind, and the sufferer realizes that his/her obsessions or compulsions are unreasonable or excessive. The obsessions or compulsions must be time-consuming (taking up more than one hour per day) to be diagnosed as OCD.  Additionally, it must cause distress or impairment in social, occupational, or school functioning.

New Mom Anxiety May Be Too Much

(dailyRx News) Once you have a baby, you realize the huge responsibility of taking care of another life. But it is possible to go overboard on worrying about your child’s safety and well-being.

A recent study found that a small percentage of women appear to develop obsessive-compulsive symptoms after having a baby.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which a person becomes obsessive about certain worries or compulsively does a number of behaviors to the point that it is mentally unhealthy.

It’s estimated that 2 to 3 percent of individuals have OCD. However, the researchers found that the percentage appears higher among women after giving birth.

Around 10 to 11 percent of women show obsessive-compulsive symptoms in the first six months after having their babies.

The study, led by Emily S. Miller, MD, MPH, of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, aimed to understand how common obsessive-compulsive behaviors were among mothers after giving birth.

The researchers gave 461 women screening tests for depression, anxiety and OCD symptoms about two weeks after they gave birth. At the start of the study, only 0.4 percent reported having previously been diagnosed with OCD.

Then, six months after having their babies, 329 of these women filled out the same screening tests again. The others were lost to follow-up.

The researchers found that 11 percent of the women showed a number of symptoms for OCD at two weeks after delivery, though most of these (10 percent of the women) showed mild OCD overall.

None of the cases found in the screening tests were severe. None of the women received official diagnoses for this disorder; the women self-reported their feelings and behaviors.

Among the fears the women had were worries about injuring their baby and worrying about germs. These concerns are certainly normal for new mothers, the researchers said.

However, if the worries become so intense that they interfere with a mother’s ability to function day-to-day, then they could indicate a mental health problem.

At the six-month follow-up, nearly half the women who had the OCD symptoms after delivery still had them. Meanwhile, another 5.4 percent of the women who initially did not have OCD symptoms now developed symptoms of OCD, for a total of 10.6 percent.

Women who were found to have anxiety and/or depression during the screenings were more likely to also develop the OCD symptoms. In fact, about 70 percent of the women with OCD symptoms also showed symptoms of depression at two weeks after delivery.

A total of 27.5 percent of those who screened positive for OCD at two weeks after delivery also screened positive for anxiety.

At six months after delivery, both these numbers dropped: 5.7 percent of those with OCD symptoms showed symptoms of anxiety, and 43 percent of those with OCD symptoms had symptoms of depression.

The researchers concluded that “the postpartum period is a high-risk time for the development of OCD symptoms” and that they are likely to persist for at least six months.

However, more research is necessary to determine where the threshold is between normal behaviors of new moms and more obsessive behaviors that might indicate a psychological disorder.  

“There is some debate as to whether postpartum depression is simply a major depressive episode that happens after birth or its own disease with its own features,” Dr. Miller said in a prepared statement.

“Our study supports the idea that it may be its own disease with more of the anxiety and obsessive-compulsive symptoms than would be typical for a major depressive episode,” she said.

The study was published in the March/April issue of The Journal of Reproductive Medicine. Information regarding funding was unavailable. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Managing Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is an illness that affects many Malaysian, and more than that many will have experienced it at some time in their lives.

It was already 11pm and Raju told his wife, “Let’s go to bed”. While his wife walk to their bedroom to settle in, Raju went to the back of his kitchen to make sure the iron grill was locked.

Raju’s wife suddenly woke up, as she had dozed off while waiting for Raju to come to bed. She look at the clock by the bed and it was now close to 11:45pm.

“Where is Raju?” She gets up and walks to the back, towards her kitchen. There she sees Raju busy locking the door, then unlocking it and locking it again, and again, or again.

This is a true story of one of my OCD clients. If you saw Raju doing that repetitive “checking if the” grill was properly lock, you would conclude that this guy is crazy. But crazy he is not.

There was another client, a pretty actress who came to me for her OCD of constantly having to wash her hands for cleanliness. She said, she had to keep wash her hand during filming and a great disruption to the movie set production.

OCD can also be quite destructive and troubling, especially for a client who got obsessed and paranoid that his deity was being sexually assaulted. It was horrifying for him has these thoughts and images keep appearing in his mind and being a pious person, it was very troubling and left him in constant guilt feeling.

What is OCD?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an illness that affects many Malaysian, and more than that many will have experienced it at some time in their lives.

“Make sure you lock the door properly, here let me check if you did it correctly” or “The floor is so dirty and I need to mop and clean it at least twice each day” can be really annoying if you are with an OCD sufferer at home.

This condition and symptom can ranges from merely annoying to an emotionally crippling condition which, if left ignored and untreated, can affect a person’s relationships, work and family life and lead to depression and other problems. OCD creates unnecessary stress and resource wastage to the sufferer and its surrounding.

The core of the OCD is an obsession with something, such as cleanliness. In the world of hypnosis, the old definition was “checking”.

Constant checking and reaffirming whether something is done right or some condition is not threatening is the core of OCD. This anxiety generated by this obsession in OCD is dealt with by the associated compulsion, typically a repetitive ritual, such as continually washing the hands, often until they are raw.

This morning an elderly woman came with her husband about her OCD. The husband told me that living with his wife, caused his to be tolerant everyday with her OCD behavior and he felt so stressed.

His wife is paranoid about body cleanliness. Even when he touches her, she feels very uncomfortable that she needs to have a bath right away. He says, at times she spent about four hours have a shower.

She told me, when she is under the shower, she feels like she is filthy, and fear that the dirt will not come out. She told me that at times, she scrub her skin until her skin hurts. She had been such since she was in her teens.

To the onlooker, this behaviour can be quite comical and quite nonsense but, OCD sufferers are powerless to stop their compulsive behaviors, and may have elaborate “rules” as to how they must be done.

They will repeat them over and over until they feel they have got it right. However, unlike the obsessive compulsions to drink or shop, OCD compulsions do not give the sufferer pleasure, but only a measure of relief.

This is a good indication, for a hypnotic viewpoint that OCD is fuel by some hidden trauma or conditioned memory.

The mind is filled with thoughts “If I fail to do something or forget to do something a negative will happen to me”.

This thought is often fed from some subconscious connection of a past event in life. As an example, the person may have been told something when they were a child. “If you don’t do such you will get such”.

Because of this a fear develops and becomes rooted deep in the subconscious mind. It did not matter if there was any basis or actual fact that supports the reason. Because of lack of real life experience to test the statement the thought is accepted as factual.

The symptoms and behaviour of people with OCD

Let’s also understand the medical views of OCD. It is now generally accepted by the medical profession that the cause may be an imbalance of a neurotransmitter in the brain called serotonin.

This is a chemical messenger in the brain that is involved with controlling mood states and is believed to be able to regulate repetitive behaviours.

People with OCD symptoms take many forms, such as: contaminating obsessions where they focus on concern with dirt or germs, or excessive concern with chemical or environmental contamination.

Some have counting compulsions, having to count up to certain numbers, Then there are the ones with checking compulsions – checking doors, locks, stoves, brakes etc. The obsession with hoarding or collecting compulsions that makes their home becomes a warehouse of junk.

The more concerning OCD symptoms of repeating rituals, such as going in and out of doors; constant aggressive obsessions, like fear of harming people, imagining horrific images, or doing something embarrassing, or thoughts of terrible events like death, fire etc.

OCD can be in a common form that you may not be aware of its presence.  Even severe workaholics are sufferers. OCDs are sometimes accompanied by depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, attention deficit disorder and many other anxiety disorders.

This is because their OCD creates such behaviors that changes and inhibits their life styles and life quality on the long run.

Children also frequently suffer of OCD, but it can affect a person of any age. OCDs can come and go at any stage of a person’s life, disappear for a period of time and then return in a different form.

They range from mildly interfering to extremely incapacitating, lasting more than an hour a day.

Sufferers are aware that their behaviour is irrational and disruptive, but they have great difficulty in controlling it.

Dealing on a daily basis with someone with OCD can put a severe strain on families and relationships, so it is important to work with them as well as the sufferer.

Sensitivity is important, because sometimes these rituals are the only way the person has to communicate.

The second step is medication. Modern drugs can produce dramatic results and OCDs are normally treated by a class of drugs known as serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs.)

SRIs such as Anafranil must be prescribed by a doctor because of their powerful effects on the brain and the body’s chemistry. Once you are on SRIs, it is dangerous to change the dosage or stop them on your own, even though you may experience unpleasant of side effects.

I have always worked with my OCD clients in integrative with their doctor. These clients are told to see their doctor for advice in terms of their medication even when they felt their OCD symptoms have become better.

I always refer them back to their doctor to report their feedback on how their condition had improved and what need to be done about the medication they are taking.

Hypnotherapy for treatment of OCD

The list of ways OCD starts can go on for several hours of reading. Treatment options are widely varied, and each has specific results.

Medication is effective but sometimes only masks the problem. It does nothing to address the underlying root cause, which resides at the subconscious level.

There are a number of therapies that are useful and cognitive behavioral psychologists have the longest track record. Group therapy led by an experienced facilitator is also effective.

Hypnotherapy can greatly assist suffers of OCD because it quickly gets to the roots of the obsession and helps to reframe it. It is also useful in helping the individuals regulate their own body chemistry, thus helping them avoid or get weaned from dependence on SRIs. The results of the side effects of medication can vary.

Typically insurance companies encourage this method of treatment because it is the least expensive in their eyes.

Hypnosis deals directly with the subconscious mind. If the root cause are unknown at a conscious level then, hypnotic technique known as regression can be very helpful in identifying any past events that had set their OCD in motion.

Once the cause is identified hypnosis becomes a powerful tool to set things right.

In order to find out the underlying cause of my OCD client’s disorder, I normally regress them in hypnosis back to a single trauma that turned out to have been the primary cause.

Over some sessions, I would be able to teach their unconscious mind how to change and then overcome this obsession. Testing is also an important process. I normally test these changes by taking them through a process of desensitization.

While OCD is essentially defined as a anxiety disorder, it can be treated with hypnotherapy with good results.

Julian Leicester is a London trained subconscious specialist with Hypno-Station. He is Malaysia’s most renowned clinical hypnotherapist, media personality, columnist, event host and book author. He can be contacted at julianleicester@gmail.com