DR. BRODSKY'S OCD & ANXIETY BLOG
What is the right kind of therapy for OCD and other anxiety disorders?
Every therapist says they treat Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and anxiety. Every therapist says they use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). In fact very few do. There is only one therapy that eliminates anxiety disorders. There is only one therapy that the OCD Foundation and most national anxiety organizations endorse. It's called Exposure Therapy. If you are still suffering, you're not hopeless. You simply didn't get the right kind of therapy.
What is Exposure Therapy like?
You can read about Exposure Therapy in the book, Confronting the Bully of OCD, authored by Dr. Brodsky's actual client, who describes her own therapy in detail, and tells you what you can expect to experience in Dr. Brodsky office.
Here's an article I wrote about Predator OCD (POCD), sometimes called Pedophile OCD. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/medical-symptom-boy-scout-me-too-confessions-dr-steven-brodsky
What is Exposure Therapy?
Exposure is the only therapy that is endorsed by all national anxiety organizations, whether it is OCD, social anxiety, agoraphobia, panic disorder, PTSD, and phobias. If a therapist does not use exposure as their main technique, they will not help your OCD. It is not sufficient if they say they use CBT. CBT is a very general term that includes dozens of techniques, including many that are not helpful to anxiety and some which will make it worse. Exposure is a special CBT technique specifically for anxiety disorders.
You're already doing exposure:
You've been doing exposure your whole life and successfully overcome hundreds of fears. It's normal to be nervous or fearful in a new situation--the first day at a new school or job, the first time you met your significant other, the first time you did a new activity. Yet you overcame your initial fears by continuing to do the uncomfortable activity; that's exposure! Some have even become sources of great joy---a new sport or career, a happy marriage, etc.
Here's an article I published on HOCD. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/gay-pride-floods-therapists-straights-who-think-theyre-brodsky/
OCD, Panic, and anxiety are like any other fear:
Exposure is the natural way people overcome fear of anything. Even the most primitive animal organisms eventually habituate to uncomfortable stimuli through exposure. We all know people who have phobias--flying, dogs, darkness, tall buildings. (I have a phobia of mice!) We know that people overcome these common fears just by gradually getting closer to and spending more time in those feared situations in small baby steps. But those baby steps eventually add up to a dramatic difference.
OCD, social anxiety, and panic are no different from these phobias, except it's harder to avoid thoughts, people, and travel. But it's the same thing and is equally treatable.
It's impossible to remain fearful:
It is physiologically impossible to remain fearful of anything with continued exposure to it. Think of firefighters, police, soldiers, doctors, and pilots. They weren't born fearless; they slowly became that way by exposure to successive approximations of their occupations. Sadly, this is true even of people in war-torn countries. We are dumbfounded watching people go to work, school, hairdressers, and weddings while bullets fly over their heads. They've been exposed enough times to become desensitized to it.
BLM & False Racist Confessions:
Check my article on a new form of scrupulosity OCD. https://lnkd.in/edTHr4T
Racist incidents trigger millions of nice liberal people to suddenly think they might be racist themselves, due to a little known form of OCD. They're afraid they'll suddenly blurt out racist slurs....
Avoidance Increases Fear:
By contrast, we know the more we avoid uncomfortable things, the more we become fearful of them. In fact, we could make you afraid of something simply by telling you to avoid it, even if you never actually encountered it.
Avoidance and Prejudice:
Isn't it surprising how fearful people can be of others who are different from ourselves or who live in other countries, despite never even meeting them? That's because they grew up being told to avoid certain types of people. Yet when we are exposed to them long enough, we become more comfortable around them.
Avoidance and Social Anxiety:
People with social anxiety feel they have to be nice and friendly for others to spend time with them. However, we’re quite comfortable even with very negative people and negative situations, for better or worse, simply through exposure and familiarity. As long as we know what we are getting ourselves into, good or bad, we’re comfortable. By contrast, we are very uncomfortable with the unfamiliar, the mysterious, “the unknown.” It's a very primitive instinctual response. If we see 2 identical people, similar in every way except that we know one and not the other, we will be more likely to go up to the one we know for no other reason than we know him. In fact, if we see 2 people--one grumpy and one nice--we would still go up to the grumpy one if we knew him, and less so the nice one if we don’t know him. At least we know what to expect from the familiar grumpy person, how to conduct yourself around them, what you can talk about, and which jokes to avoid. But we don’t know what to make of the nice person we don’t know.
Why do we cross the street?
We cross the street every day without thinking we could be hit by a car. Does that guarantee we can't be a fatality? Of course not. Accidents happen all the time. We've learned to live with these everyday risks not because we've been reassured, but because we simply have been exposed to it many times and are habituated to it.
You WILL overcome your OCD, panic, and anxiety:
The good news is that if you've overcome fears of these everyday situations--learning to ride a bicycle, learning to swim, new places, new people, new school, new job, etc.--then you WILL also overcome the anxiety that has put your life on hold. You, and millions of people going through the same thing, can be hopeful of overcoming this problem once and for all!
Here's an interview about Hoarding Disorder:
Myths & Facts about Social Anxiety Disorder or Social Phobia
Social Anxiety or Social Phobia is discomfort or anxiety in certain social interactions. The person attempts to avoid the anxiety by avoiding the specific social situations, or they might "work hard" to overcompensate when they can't avoid. There are a number of popular myths about social anxiety.
Myth 1: Social Anxiety is fear of strangers.
Fact: The feared social situation actually varies considerably among different individuals. Some people do indeed fear strangers but feel more comfortable with people they know. Others, however, are most comfortable with strangers and brief superficial interactions, but becoming increasingly uncomfortable as people get to know them on a deeper level over time; they feel like their flaws will be discovered.
Myth 2: People with Social Anxiety are Introverts and Avoid Social Contact
Fact: Many people with severe social anxiety are never identified because they masquerade as extroverts. They “have to” be the center of attention, but suffer tremendously internally. Often having above average intelligence, they overcompensate by cleverly controlling situations to mask insecurities. They are frequently the most popular and highest achievers who “no one would ever know” suffers painfully with extreme feelings of embarrassment and isolation. They fall under the radar of coworkers, friends, teachers, and parents, who assume popularity and a smile equals confidence.
These are red flags: Is the person NEVER alone in public? Do they have friends, but never invite them home? Does NO ONE dislike them? Do they have so much to say they can't tolerate a pause? Do they never get angry or sad? Do they do most of group projects and have trouble delegating? On the other hand, do they resist doing solo tasks in view of others at work or school? Can they tolerate being wrong? Are they the class clown or office chatterbox? Are they NEVER with unpopular peers? Or, are they ALWAYS helping less social peers and volunteering to help the unfortunate?
Here's a recent radio interview I had about POCD (Predator OCD or Pedophile OCD)
Myth 3: Socially Anxious People Lack Social Skills
Fact: You can have excellent social skills and still be socially anxious. You can have poor social skills and yet not be anxious. There are awkward people who are overwhelmed with anxiety, and there are other awkward people who are oblivious and never feel embarrassed. Anxiety is a fear. It is possible to not be fearful, regardless of your level of social skills. By analogy, if I overcome a fear of fire, the fire hasn't changed, but my fear of it has lessened. People can become unafraid of many negative conditions, even if it's genuinely dangerous, as in abuse or war. Improving social skills can be advantageous in other ways, but you don't have to learn a single new social skill to reduce your anxiety in social situations.