There is an extremely important aspect about OCD that I wish to focus upon now: guilt. It is much harder to experience progress in terms of curing OCD in cases where guilt is present, especially when these feelings of guilt are deep and felt, more so when sufferers feel they are betraying themselves, their family, etc. Why does this happen? Why the coincidence between those that find it harder to get cured and those who feel the most guilty? If guilt is part of your symptoms, then you MUST read this message. Through it I will attempt to answer these questions, but to do so, to get into context, we need to put forth a few examples of cases of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder where the feelings of guilt are most severe.
One clear example arrises when the person has obsessive thoughts about fears of hurting those closest to them. More precisely, when these thoughts are based off horrible terrors about hurting their own babies and small children…! They consciously understand they are absolutely incapable of harming their offspring, who they love madly, but they are frightened with the possibility of “loosing their minds” and do something crazy, something out of the question. It is very frequent to find the triggering factor for this kind of OCD in things like hearing in the news about someone that has killed his or her own sons or daughters.
It is quite understandable that the magnitude of guilt generated by these kinds of thoughts to be immense; the individual may come to see himself or herself as a monster because of these simple thoughts… They are after all obsessive, intrusive thoughts, as we by now know happens with OCD in general, even if they know it makes no sense to harbor such thoughts. Another clear example is fear of being a pedophile. In their minds, they know they are not, that they would not ever be even capable of abusing a small child, and there is not even an attraction towards them (which is in fact present in pedophiles). I remember the case of a person that obsessed over and over with the thought of, how to be completely sure to never become a pedophile? Or, how to assure one will never lose one’s head and abuse a minor?
Now I ask, can you imagine the intensity of guilt a person with these types of thoughts (and even more so when they know they are NOT pedophiles!) can come to have? These two perfectly exemplify cases of OCD where guilt is the main factor. By instinct, us humans tend to repress strongly negative emotions, especially those that are socially unacceptable. These are repressed within the individual’s subconscious mind so as to stem and mitigate the physical effects of the feelings of guilt, to make them less devastating. The issue with repression is that subconscious negative emotions contribute to generate hypersensitivity in the brain’s amygdala; an overly stimulated amygdala is a constant source of obsessive thoughts, and the associated negative emotions thereby generated.
Therefore, the patient is caught in a never-ending bucle, a vicious cycle of obsessive thoughts that generate guilt, which in turn ALSO generates more and more obsessive thoughts, retro-feeding a wheel that becomes constantly and consistently larger. Guilt becomes a snowball that goes down a hill, out of control, incorporating more and more snow as it travels downhill, until the feeling of guilt and associated pain becomes unbearable. This vicious cycle is the reason for a person full of guilt and shame frequently becoming stuck, unable to find healing.
The main issue is that more often than not, the patient keeps generating more and more guilty feelings (finding themselves stuck in said cycle), so the cumulus of guilty thoughts never descends from the subconscious mind, and is not easily healed thought psychoanalytic means. It is as if we were trying to empty a pool full of unclean water, but the pool keeps getting filled through a big wide pipe; if the same amount of contaminated water that goes out goes in, it will clearly never become empty! This all leads us to a fundamental conclusion: it is of paramount importance to correct within us that which is generating these huge amounts of guilty feelings and thoughts, or otherwise we will find ourselves unable to empty these “septic pools” within our minds… Here lies the key to liberate the mind of heavily repressed subconscious emotions of guilt, and ultimately of OCD itself!