Creating Hope

As I’ve said many times before, I credit my son Dan’s recovery from severe OCD to his commitment to Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) Therapy. When Dan was going through treatment, I knew very little about obsessive-compulsive disorder, and didn’t realize that his unwavering commitment to engage in this distressing therapy was not necessarily the norm.

The problem with ERP Therapy is not that it doesn’t work; it does. But the very nature of this therapy causes intense anxiety in those that suffer from OCD, and often those with the disorder will either refuse to continue it, or not even attempt it at all. I have always found this hard to comprehend, as those with OCD are already suffering. So why not vamp up the anxiety with the promise of a huge payoff? This is just one of the aspects of OCD that is difficult for a non-sufferer to understand.

Dr. Adam Radomsky, a professor in the Department of Psychology at Concordia University in Canada, says, “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.”

Dr. Radomsky is testing a new therapy for OCD, specifically for those who have compulsive checking rituals. This treatment is based on the belief that OCD sufferers who compulsively check do so because they have an inflated sense of responsibility.

Whether this new treatment program will work remains to be seen. But just the fact that research is going on and new therapies are being developed is exciting to me. Millions of people suffer from OCD. Surely the more treatment options that are available to them, the more chance there is for a successful recovery from the disorder.

This seems like a fitting time for me to “thank” Dr. Victor Meyer, a British psychologist, who back in 1966 had the courage to apply to humans what had been successful in animal studies. Though other therapists were afraid to try it with their patients, Dr. Meyer began intensive ERP Therapy with two hospitalized patients with severe OCD. Both recovered enough to go on to live “normal” lives, as has my son Dan, over forty years later.

We need to support research for all aspects of OCD, and we need to support the researchers as well. Those who take risks, and those who step outside the box to help those suffering from OCD, are doing more than just research. They are creating hope for a recovery for all those who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder.

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7 Responses to Creating Hope

  1. Janet, That is exciting that researchers are still working to find effective treatments. I’ll have to read about Radomsky’s research–sounds interesting. I have an inflated sense of responsibility for sure. Thank you for helping to keep us up-to-date about what’s going on in OCD research!

    It does create hope to know there are people still trying to help sufferers of mental health problems. I will be starting a new kind of therapy that I’ll talk about in my next blog post. I had a turn of events in therapy that changes focus. I am trying to hold on to hope!

  2. ocdtalk says:

    Thanks for the comment, Tina…..I am looking forward to your post and reading about your “new kind of therapy.” I am cheering you on!

  3. 71 & Sunny says:

    Wow, I never knew about Dr. Victor Meyer, but he just became my hero. I’m assuming he has passed on, but if I could, I would sure love to extend him my gratitude. What a visionary.

    I know about the heightened sense of responsibility. It’s true, you really do feel like it all depends on you and that you are responsible for the outcome – and the outcome is usually bad. My psychologist had to remind me over and over again that I just didn’t have that much power.

    I know it is difficult for non-sufferers to understand our reluctance to pursue CBT & ERP. I guess the best way to explain it is that it just seems that much scarier than what we already live with. Just this evening, I was asking my husband to help me set goals for ERP. I told him that I would need help because it’s just plain difficult to decide to purposely give yourself high levels of anxiety. It’s like saying you want to go get a root canal every day. Sure, lots of people will do it if they have to, on occasion, but I doubt too many people would volunteer for daily root canals! However, I definitely don’t want to discourage anyone from doing CBT & ERP. I am living proof that this therapy works and I’ve gotten so much of my life back. Plus, I was always afraid of my own shadow, so if I can do it, anyone sure can.

    I am also extremely grateful for researchers looking for new and more palatable treatments. These hard working men and women do provide hope for the OCD community. Who couldn’t use more hope?

  4. ocdtalk says:

    Thanks for commenting, Sunny. Well, I have had root canals, and I certainly wouldn’t want them daily :). Thanks for the analogy……..the more first-hand info I receive about all aspects of OCD, the more I understand.

  5. Hello Janet, Thank you for writing your blog on personification. It prompted me to write down my own thoughts in reply. If you could find time to read my blog and comment. Best wishes, JohnM

  6. debbie nelson says:

    I appreciate all the comments listed-my son is 13 with ocd to germs. He cannot attend school or church or be by any animals. it is soo disheartening. i know he needs CBT or ERP but out of state. Does anyone know of someone/somewhere good to go?

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