For me it’s checking the damn stove and the front door, during the day, then multiple times at night before I go to bed.
Hearing about a fire where something was left on the stove, just freaks me out and causes my ‘OCD’ to kick in even more!
This article on (Science Daily.com) discusses OCD — Did I remember to lock the back door? Did I turn off the stove? Were the lights still on when I left the house this morning? Such minor doubts are part our daily mental chatter. But for the over 650,000 Canadians who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), thoughts along these lines can lead to compulsive checking — a potentially debilitating behaviour that keeps the sufferer locked in an endless cycle of fear and doubt.
For Concordia University’s Adam Radomsky, a professor in the Department of Psychology and the Director of the Centre for Clinical Research in Health at Concordia, finding a viable treatment for these individuals is driving research freshly funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR). Based on previous work conducted with colleagues at the University of British Columbia and the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, Radomsky is now testing a novel approach to treatment for compulsive checking that could just mean vast improvements in the quality of life of countless individuals.
“For years, the best way to treat compulsive checking in OCD sufferers has been through a difficult therapeutic process known as exposure and response prevention, or ERP” explains Radomsky. “By facing their worst fears repeatedly until their anxiety declines, patients learn to diffuse their hypervigilant checking responses — in theory.” In practise, however, this type of treatment often results in patients quickly discontinuing the therapy. “Refusal rates for ERP are unacceptably high, which is why we need to develop a new and refined treatment that specifically works for compulsive checking.”
Radomsky’s treatment builds on previous research which found that individuals with OCD who compulsively checked certain aspects of their surroundings did so because of an inflated sense of perceived responsibility. “If I don’t turn off the stove, the house will burn down,” is a plausible thought that can quickly devolve into an obsessive cycle of checking and re-checking, and can even result in an inability to leave the house. Yet, as proved by Radomsky’s previous research, performing these seemingly senseless repetitions actually results in a loss of confidence.
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