OCD Awareness:  Understanding Your Child's Fears and Compulsions

Bully graphicOCD awareness helps our kids when we understand their suffering. According to OCD expert Dr. Jerome Bubrick the tormenting condition is like "a bully in your brain."


OCD awareness is crucial in helping our kids overcome their fears and anxieties. Read on to learn more about what our kids are going through and how you can help your child.

Have you ever had a bad experience or a serious trial and just wished someone else understood what you were going through? Did you long for someone else to sympathize with your plight?

I know I have.

And I've been learning that many of our kids experience terrible fears that torment them every single day.

That's why I think OCD awareness is so important, and that we learn about what they are thinking and how they're feeling.

Because life will be that much easier for them if they know we understand how they are feeling and they see that we sympathize with them.


OCD is Like "A Bully in Your Brain"

Jerome Bubrick, Ph.D., Director of the Intensive OCD Program at the Child Mind Institute has likened Obsessive Compulsive Disorder symptoms to “a bully in your brain.”

He says it’s like a great big, intimidating bully with lots of muscles. He comes to your child and says, “Give me your lunch money or I’ll beat you up!”

To get the bully to leave him (to get rid of his fear) the child gives the bully the money. The bully leaves for a while and spends the money.

Your child is relieved for a little while because the bully isn’t there to torment him.

But because the bully’s tactics worked the first time, he is soon back to torment your child again. The bully says again, “Give me some more money!”

Your child gives in to the bully with the desire to get rid of his fear (the bully). 

What he doesn’t realize is that the act of giving in to his fear and performing the compulsion will keep that same fear (the bully) coming back.

Dr. Bubrick states that effective therapy forces the child to face the fear while not allowing him to perform the compulsion. 

He reveals that there are actual differences between the brains of people who have OCD and those who don’t. And that effective therapy actually changes the brain. 

So there’s a lot of hope for those who suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder symptoms. For more about OCD awareness and about Dr. Bubrick’s methods, click here.


OCD Awareness: Reasons and Thoughts Behind Obsessions and Compulsions

mystery doorFor some sufferers of severe OCD, a compulsion is far more tempting if the consequences of giving in to it are an unknown "mystery."

Keep in mind that the thoughts, feelings and reasons for obsessions can vary widely from person to person. But at the root of all obsessions and compulsions is some type of fear or anxiety.

Here is where OCD awareness is extremely helpful so we can know how those who suffer from this condition are feeling and why they feel compelled to carry out their rituals or compulsions.

Based on my own research and from talking to people with OCD, I’ve discovered some of the reasons and thoughts behind the obsessions and compulsions that people with OCD are experiencing.

Below I've listed a few, but I am sure there are many more.

  1. Compulsions are performed to get rid of the fear the sufferer is feeling. This will work to allay the fear for just a while, but ironically the more she gives in to the compulsion to get rid of the fear, the more those fears will return later to haunt her.
  2. In some cases, the compulsion is done to prove to the sufferer that the consequences for giving in to it won't be so bad.
  3. In some severe cases, knowing exactly what the consequences will be is helpful. If the sufferer knows the consequences won't be bad, or if she knows the consequences will be horrific, she isn't likely to give in to the compulsion.
  4. In some severe cases, the sufferer will be very likely to give in to the compulsion if there is an element of "mystery" to it. Will giving in be bad or not so bad? The fear of the unknown makes it more tempting.
  5. In a severe case, his thinking might go something like this: "Should I ever at any time perform the action in question, what terrible fate might befall me?" He thinks it to be better to just go ahead and get it over with now rather than be tormented by such a "mystery" for years to come.

We can add to this list over time, and I think it's good to understand how our kids might be thinking.

And if you yourself have OCD and can add to this list, please let me know in the comments or by sending me a message from the Contact Us page.


"Double" Compulsions

Some with OCD experience a “double” compulsion. The first compulsion is to do something he or she is afraid of. The second compulsion is to “neutralize” the first compulsion.

For example, “John” felt compelled to say the words of a vow, one that he was afraid of making. Once he uttered the dreaded vow, he would add additional words to the sentence that would “neutralize” the “promise.”

Specifically, he might vow never to listen to his favorite music group again, and then add the “neutralizing” compulsion, “is not what I want to say….”


The "Vow" Compulsion

Speaking of feeling compelled to make some vow or promise, I do have some experience with someone I know who has suffered from this particular form of OCD.

Although many with OCD may never experience the compulsion to make specific vows, I’d like to address this just in case there are others reading this who suffer from this compulsion. Because this is a particularly oppressive, nightmarish form of OCD.

It’s important to understand, here again, that we’re dealing with “a bully in your brain,” as Dr. Bubrick stated.

If a bully comes to you and forces you to make a vow, you really didn’t choose to make that vow. The “bully” forced you to it.

So any “vow” that a person might make as a result of OCD is really no vow at all, since it was made under compulsion.

You can safely ignore any such “vow,” just as any contract signed under duress is null and void. Because a true, valid promise spoken before God is one that you choose to make of your own free will.


The More We Understand OCD, the More We Help Our Kids

I'll soon be posting more information on OCD awareness as well as other common issues we and our kids often face.

Because the more we can learn about OCD, the better we can sympathize with their suffering and get them the help they need.

If you would like to be informed whenever I post new articles on this site, scroll up to the top of this page and join our newsletter list.


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