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Wombat140

How do you deal with a phobia/revulsion of a particular WORD?

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PLEASE READ - Important: please read this posting before replying to anything I post: http://latitudes.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=24834#entry186170  This posting indicates what the main word is that I have a problem with, but please don't say it to me by way of exposure; I can't cope with that, especially as my reaction to things is always worse if I've specifically asked someone not to do them.  I do really need to be able to use this forum. 

I have a weird OCD(?) issue which is a horror of a particular word.  Or rather, several words, it's been spreading.  I'm going to talk about the oldest and most poisonous one, but much the same could be said of all the others.  It's taking over at the moment - running wild and poisoning everything; I don't know how to deal with it and I really need help. 

It's not exactly that I'm afraid of it (though I know that it's usual with OCD to insist on making the patient admit that their issue is in fact straightforward "anxiety" exactly like everyone else's, and I'm not going to argue).  It's that it seems to me utterly disgusting and dehumanising, or rather to indicate something that is.  So, yes, I am afraid of it, in that it's not surprising to be afraid at the prospect of something that seems so horrible to you.  But I don't think that's really the point.  Anyway, I think whether I'm basically disgusted or frightened probably isn't really the point, either.  Just mentioning it in case it was.

The weird thing is that it's a word that most people would consider a nice word or at least neutral, and presumably so did I before all this started.  That's the trouble, in fact - things that are OK in themselves can be described by that word, and because that word has horrible associations and evokes horrible feelings, that then makes the things seem horrible too by definition.  People have suggested that it's a conditioned-response thing - perhaps it got associated with some bad experience that happened to me, and grew from there.  That does seem very likely to me, it fits the way it behaves, though I don't actually remember any such incident.

Anyway, the point is: I don't know how to tackle it.  Has anyone else dealt with a reaction to a word, and, if so, what things did you do? 

Being a word seems to make ordinary exposure very difficult.  The trouble is, words are MEANT to work by association.  It's associated in my mind with horrible feelings, ideas and images.  So if I write it down, say, or read it, I think, "yes, there is a word that means something terrible".  To the extent that I can't even stand to read it or have the thought of t in my head without dloing something to "shake it off".  And if I don't shake it off, if I allow my brain to carry on saying that something is "[word]", then I feel slimy and horrible and as if it's physically clingin all over me and touching me with long, jeering fingers (If you see what I mean by jeering fingers... :) ), and it gets worse and worse until I can't bear it or think straight any longer and give in and do a compulsion, usually a worse one than before.  And it makes it very difficult even to think clearly about why something isn't in fact a horrible thing that I should rationally be avoiding: my mind just keeps going, "But it is [word]!  You can't deny that it's [word]!  Anyone would say so!" but then with that word come all the meanings I associate with it, which do not in fact apply to the thing in question at all, but I become unable to see it as anything else.  How can I get this word (and all the others) away from the associations?

I've tried a few things, some of which make me think more clearly for a bit, but I don't seem to be getting anywhere.  And I don't know whether that's because I'm going about it wrong, or because I'm not doing enough of it, or just because my brain is short-circuiting too badly to keep up (I'm currently in the early stages of treatment for Lyme isease, to no evident effect so far).

Please help if you can.  Anything, however small.  I'm going crazy. 

It's my birthday tomorrow, so any little nugget of advice would be a really nice present!  :) 

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Hi Wombat140, I deal w severe OCD/anxiety (actually just got DBS for it), but the best way I know how to approach word fears are to specifically expose yourself to the fear itself. That's the idea behind ERP therapy. Let me know if I can help further!

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Our son has had only milder problems with words, that are usually directly disgusting, so I can't offer any real advice, other than the ERP that has been suggested.  I understand it to be a very difficult thing to do, and requiring a good practioner to help do it right.

I listened to a podcast on OCD this week, and the individual interviewed said that after seeing (or listening to) a documentary, he emailed a very renowned OCD expert in the U.S. (Dr. Micheal Jenike) that was featured.  He got a response, including names of practitioners near the patient that could help with ERP.   In your desperate situation, why not try it.  Unless a no-response would send you into a tailspin, have you got anything to lose?

Dr. Jenike is very aware of PANS, and lyme as a trigger.  I'll leave it to you to look him up.

The podcast where I heard the story related is here http://shrinkrapradio.com/562-how-ocd-and-stigma-led-to-creating-a-therapist-community-directory-with-mike-fink/, if you are interested.

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Kakrpa - er, thanks.  But I have no idea how to go about that, that's the trouble.  Could you give me any advice?  It's how that's baffling me - like I say, since the whole point of a word is to have associations, if I just throw myself against it while thinking all the same things about it as usual, then all I'm doing is confirming to myself that yes, it is about all those things and by definition it is terrible.  Also, I can't do it.  And also, when I have occasionally managed it, it indeed doesn't seem to be doing any good.

Incidentally, why is it always just "ERP" on here?  On the usual OCD support forums I visit, it's always CBT - i.e. ERP plus cognitive elements - and using ERP alone is considered a bit primitive.  But here it's always ERP that's talked about as the treatment for OCD, all by itself.  Why is that?  (It strikes terror into me because I have a shrewd suspicion that forcing me purely mechanically through basic ERP, without any attempt at explaining why what I'm being exposed to isn't the most terrible thing in the universe, would just lead purely mechanically o me screaming and beating my head against the walls.)

Thanks Bob.  I'll bear that in mind, though it's awkward because I'm on the waiting list to see a psychologist already - just the local hospital one.  I've been "assessed" by her and she talks as if she has something in mind to refer me to, but whether she has in mind someone with special expertise of some kind (and, if so, in what - there was some talk a while ago about a local centre for autistic spectrum disorders, so it might be that, or something else), or just one of the standard local CBT people, I don't know.  If it's the latter I suspect they'd be wasting their time - I got sent home from a CBT therapist once before, and she did specialise in OCD and ASDs.  So it might be awkward to complicate things with somebody else at this point.  All the same, I'll discuss it with my parents. 

I do think that this is a tall order to deal with by myself and that I need to see someone.  But it'll presumably take weeks at best to get to see a psychologit, so I was just hoping for some adice about what to do in the meantime.

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Hi Wombat140, I'm not sure why ERP is more suggested than CBT. I've had both. Might be a good idea for you to research ERP on Youtube.

So, let's say my current OCD fear is of being gay. ERP therapy would say to look at pictures (not porn!) of two same sex individuals walking together, reading a love story about a gay couple, etc. The idea behind it is to desensitize you to your fear.

So, with your "word", you might consider recording yourself saying the word, repeatedly, and then playing it back to yourself throughout the day.

Lmk if any questions - I hope this helps you!!

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Hello Kakrpa,

Ah, I'm afraid even saying the word out loud one is well into screaming and beatin my hea against the walls territory, let alone hearing it said out loud.  Wer'e talking PANS-style monster OCD here.  I know I just shouldn't be that extreme, but I can't help it.  I reongise that the idea is to not do that, but I'd have become totally irrational by then.

I need to say, I do know perfectly well what ERP is and what the basic principles are.  (I'm not meaning I'm taking offence at being terated liked I don't know.  I can just see this going on for a very long tome with people telling me things I've known by heart since I was 14, before ever getting on to anything relevant, if I don't set that straight now.)  it's just that I can't work out exactly how to apply it to something as weird and abstract as this.  That's why I'm asking a special qestion on ere.  Thank you very much for still being here and talking.

For instance, when the trigger is a thought in your head, what's the distinction between expoxure (allegedly a good thing) and ruminating (a Bad Thing)?  Yes, just thinking this word can set me off, or rather, wen I sponaneously think that something is describable as "[...]".

And how do you disentangle the rational fear, the irrational fear, and the compulsion?  What I mean by rational fear is, that I'm kind of making this word mean all inds of things hat it doesn't mean according to the dictionary - well, that it can sometimes, in fact quite often, be used to imply, but that aren't part of its definition.  (I would rather not come down to anything more concrete than that unless I can do it by private message.)  Consequently, just having people tell me (as you and Bob just did) that what I shoul do is et used to it, w any apparent acknowledgment of what I've said about how it means all inds of horrible thing to me, just makes me more agitated and restisnt than ever, because it seems as if they're tellin me I have to accept and get used to accepting all the horrible things that I associate with that word!  I sort of see that what's really happening is that you're just taking it as readd that all my reasons for objecting to it aren't in fact logically sound, and jumping straight to the en.  But I don't in fact have that level of insight yself, not reliably!  So, I'm rationally against all the things that the ord maes me think of, and irrationally against the word itself and anything it can mean on account of that.  Sounds starightforward written down, but since the whole point of a word is to mean things, it's very difficult to comprehend in practice.

It's rather similar to the problem I see people with paedophile OCD having.  They react with horror to being told that they shold "accept the thoughts" and "traoin themselves to not mind them", beca\use they go, "what, you're s\ayingb I should accept being a paedophile and get to npt mind it?"  Of course, the thing there is that it's not being a paedophile you're supposed to accept, it's the THOUGHT that you might e a paedophile.  But that's a ferociously difficut thing to keep straight in yoiur head, hence the constant stream of people asking questions lie that on the OCD fprums I used to use, and with mine it seems even more difficult.  Is there anything that helps yiou get a clearer idea in your head of the difference between the actual word (and its actual meaning in itself) and the horriblethings you're associating it with? 

I think this is part of the extra stuff that CBT has and ERP dpesn't - the so--called cognitive lement - i.e. trying to learn t o understand why what you're supposed to be doinng isn't in fact the disaster yoiu think it is, rather than just "never mind why, do as I say".  I think propbably how much you need the cognitive side rather than just going straight for epxosure depends on how good your insight is already .  Well, my insight is crummy.  That sounds a little like special pleading, but hinestly it is crummy. 

 

Hello Bob -

Is there anything particularly special about this one and thd people he recommeds?  I have sound sensitivities and really nt good with podcasts.  PANS-literate sounds good.   When I did a We searh for his name I also saw somethi g where he said:

Quote

I don’t really worry about the rules if they get in the way of patient care. I was told when I was in training that psychiatrists are not allowed to make house calls but my patients were stuck and could not get out of the house so I saw no other way. I don’t break rules just to break them (I hope). It seemed silly to have a nonsense rule that prevented very ill patients from getting help. We have systematically set up a group of master’s-level clinicians to go into people’s homes to treat severely ill patients. ... I still spend much of my time out of the office seeing people on their turf.

Which sounds encouraging, obviously he can hardly come and visit me in the UK but surely it means he would at leat ne able to get his head around the concept of "can't travel to see someone is there anyone who can work long distance"!

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Yes, I have known Dr. Jenike to travel to patients that, because of their OCD, could not leave their homes.

I was wondering if he has UK practitioners on his list, that was why I thought contacting him might be useful.  I suppose that if he happens to be travelling in the UK, you could try to engage his services, but that would surely be a longshot.

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thanks Bob. I mean, I can't travel within the UK.  I feel lie you probably want believe me about that; people on here seem to hink that if it's in the UK, that should be near enough for anybody!  I forget who it was that said, "The difference between the British and the Americans is that the British think a hundred miles is a long way, and the Americans think a hundred years is s long time".  But honsetly, you'd seen me, you'd agree that expecting me to go regularly to anyone mpre than half an hour away is just not practiocable.  But I was thinking that what he said about treating people at home if they need it suggests that he might understand, and look for other people who would understand, the idea that sometimes treating people at a distance is nescessary.

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Hi Wombat140! Sorry to hear this is still upsetting you, but it's understandable (unfortunately). Did the suggestions I gave you help at all? Have you recorded yourself repeating the word and listening to it?? I can tell right now the OCD has its stronghold on you with this word. I don't mean to diminish it's power over you in any way, nor do I want to make it seem like it's an insurmountable task to get through/over.

You have to start somewhere - what are you thinking of trying?? Take baby steps here, and build your way up. ((hugs))

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@kakrpa - thanks vvery much for replying, but did you actually read any of what I said?  I do appreciate your taking the time to try and help, but you'll only be wasting your time if you don't read the question and so end up posting things that I' e already been through!  And it's made me a LOT worse.  No offence, I'm sure there is a way of saying this that doesn't siund like blaming you for it, but I can't work one out so can only say that's not the intention.  I'm not blaming you, I just don't want you to do that again.

(Just worked out how to do that @ thing, let's see if it works.)

EDIT Jusr looked bac and, in fact, you actually might not have seeb it because it did get a bit buried and was also pretty well illegible!  So here's the salient bit again .

 Hello Kakrpa,

Ah, I'm afraid even saying the word out loud one is well into screaming and beatin my hea against the walls territory, let alone hearing it said out loud.  Wer'e talking PANS-style monster OCD here.  I know I just shouldn't be that extreme, but I can't help it.  I reongise that the idea is to not do that, but I'd have become totally irrational by then.

I need to say, I do know perfectly well what ERP is and what the basic principles are.  (I'm not meaning I'm taking offence at being terated liked I don't know.  I can just see this going on for a very long tome with people telling me things I've known by heart since I was 14, before ever getting on to anything relevant, if I don't set that straight now.)  it's just that I can't work out exactly how to apply it to something as weird and abstract as this.  That's why I'm asking a special qestion on ere.  Thank you very much for still being here and talking.

For instance, when the trigger is a thought in your head, what's the distinction between expoxure (allegedly a good thing) and ruminating (a Bad Thing)?  Yes, just thinking this word can set me off, or rather, wen I sponaneously think that something is describable as "[...]".

And how do you disentangle the rational fear, the irrational fear, and the compulsion?  What I mean by rational fear is, that I'm kind of making this word mean all inds of things hat it doesn't mean according to the dictionary - well, that it can sometimes, in fact quite often, be used to imply, but that aren't part of its definition.  (I would rather not come down to anything more concrete than that unless I can do it by private message.)  

Consequently, just having people tell me (as you and Bob just did) that what I shoul do is et used to it, without any apparent acknowledgment of what I've said about how it means all inds of horrible thing to me, reliably just makes me more agitated and restisnt than ever, because it seems as if they're tellin me I have to accept and get used to accepting all the horrible things that I associate with that word!  I sort of see that what's really happening is that you're just taking it as readd that all my reasons for objecting to it aren't in fact logically sound, and jumping straight to the en.  But I don't in fact have that level of insight yself, not reliably!  So, I'm rationally against all the things that the ord maes me think of, and irrationally against the word itself and anything it can mean on account of that.  Sounds starightforward written down, but since the whole point of a word is to mean things, it's very difficult to comprehend in practice.

It's rather similar to the problem I see people with paedophile OCD having.  They react with horror to being told that they shold "accept the thoughts" and "traoin themselves to not mind them", beca\use they go, "what, you're s\ayingb I should accept being a paedophile and get to npt mind it?"  Of course, the thing there is that it's not being a paedophile you're supposed to accept, it's the THOUGHT that you might e a paedophile.  But that's a ferociously difficut thing to keep straight in yoiur head, hence the constant stream of people asking questions lie that on the OCD fprums I used to use, and with mine it seems even more difficult.  Is there anything that helps yiou get a clearer idea in your head of the difference between the actual word (and its actual meaning in itself) and the horriblethings you're associating it with?

I think this is part of the extra stuff that CBT has and ERP dpesn't - the so--called cognitive lement - i.e. trying to learn t o understand why what you're supposed to be doinng isn't in fact the disaster yoiu think it is, rather than just "never mind why, do as I say".  I think propbably how much you need the cognitive side rather than just going straight for epxosure depends on how good your insight is already .  Well, my insight is crummy.  That sounds a little like special pleading, but hinestly it is crummy. 

Edited by Wombat140

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Hi Wombat140, I have read everything you've written and have tried to help...I'm sorry I don't have a good answer for you, and hope you find the help/answers you need. (((hugs)))

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