Recently someone emailed me and asked if my OCD was more about worrying about hell than it was about worrying if God was real, and I had to say honestly that after twenty-five years of OCD, there aren’t a lot of themes I haven’t experienced. Is God real, is Jesus real, is heaven real, is Christianity legitimate, was Jesus really God’s son or was he the devil in disguise, have I committed the unpardonable sin? OCD can cycle through a lot of themes in a quarter of a century.
That’s the thing with OCD: it often doesn’t remain in one place. When I was still in high school– and even into my college years– I kept thinking, “If I could just sort out X, then I would be happy.” So I’d wrestle with X, read books about it, seek reassurance, talk things over with my youth pastor and parents, research things online … and if I was ever able to “solve” it, then … my OCD moved onto Y.
I was in perpetual motion for so many years– but I never got anywhere. It was all spinning my wheels.
Exposure and response prevention ignores the emergencies that OCD is sparking in every corner and goes after the OCD itself. Instead of relying on compulsions, which temporarily help to “solve” individual issues, ERP is like a hitman with a mission to assassinate the OCD.
You can see why one is far more preferable than the other.