Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Zen of OCD

Contrary to popular belief, obsessive-compulsive disorder isn't just for people who wash their hands too much or who go to absurd lengths to avoid unlucky numbers number 13 and 666.

The condition, if we are to believe the word of the psychiatric profession - and that's an immense "if" - can take many seemingly disparate forms, and its outer fringes can surprisingly open up a whole new realm of meta-compulsion that borders on hallucination:

Some people with OCD may sense that the physical world is qualified by certain immaterial conditions. These people might intuit invisible protrusions from their bodies, or could feel that inanimate objects are ensouled. These intuitions and feelings do not stem from socially accepted religious or metaphysical convictions, such as animism; even a child with OCD might find their obsessive notions ultimately silly. However, even if the OCD sufferer understands that their notions do not correspond with the external world, they feel that they must act as though their notions were correct.

For example, an individual who engages in compulsive hoarding might be inclined to treat inorganic matter as if it had the sentience or rights of living organisms, but such an individual might find their consequent behavior irrational on a more intellectual level. However, Insel and Akiskal (1986) noted that in severe OCD, obsessions can shift into delusions when resistance to the obsession is abandoned and insight into its senselessness is lost.

Clearly, this extended interpretation of OCD encourages the casual observer to accept the findings of psychiatry, and to follow it wherever it leads - but it is now seeming to lead into the realms of religion, spirituality, superstition, and by osmosis, inevitably, quantum physics, consciousness, and the mind.

We here at this steampunk-scented organization without a name hereby officially go on record as decrying any psychiatric interpretation of these mystical satori-like experiences - especially the bit about the perceived anthropomorphization of so-called inanimate objects - as bunk, hokum, and quackery.

What's next - accusing millions of practitioners of the Catholic faith of being mentally ill for believing in transubstantiation?

Or children who, with one part of their brain believe a stuffed animal to have a life-force and a sentient personality, while another part of their brain is well aware that the toy is made of synthetic fibers, came from K-Mart, and is not alive in a conventionally held sense?

The above-quoted Wikipedia text also notes that although most people experience intrusive images in their heads from time to time, the OCD patient's error is in attaching "extraordinary significance" to the thoughts.

What's so wrong about being extraordinary?

We plant a flag here in the name of the Algonquin Manitou, individually and collectively. Tuning in to their transmissions is not a mental illness.

Don't touch that dial.


  1. there is no doubt, in my mind, that some of the great geniuses and thinkers of our time had ocd and other so called "sicknesses". imagine how much the world would have lost if theyd been "cured"...........

  2. From the vantage of our Western science/spirit duality, it can be difficult to conceive that this whole system is fraught with intelligence (therefore, inseparable from it), despite ample evidence in support of that conclusion.

    I've been contemplating the common cultural practice of naming vehicles, tools, and equipment. 'Modern' thinking may brand this behavior as purely superstitious, but, by imbuing (or recognizing) our devices with consciousness, we, definitely, treat them more gently and with greater appreciation--and there is almost nothing in this system that does not respond more favorably under those conditions.

    Sailing vessels are not only named, but christened. If one contended that they did not believe a boat has her own spirit, her captain might respond, 'She has to be experienced.' Aye, [RV] Calypso!

    I am saddened every time pop-psychologists come up with a new catch-all-category label. As with many other such labels, under this more comprehensive definition of OCD, we are all neurotic, ghosts in the machine or not.

  3. Post post: Additionally, if anyone argues with the idea that human belief/attention gives more significance to things, try taking away their bio-survival tickets (money).