It is now quite well established that rationalizations of ones obsessions or trying to figure out what they mean or why one may have them is quite unhelpful in treating OCD. If one is not trying to figure them out or trying to make sense of them, then how does one treat them? Brain imaging, cognitive behaviour therapy research and clinical experience is telling us that traditional ‘talk therapy’ does not fully help people living with OCD and there is no good evidence out there that it does.

Well the alternative, although quite difficult for many individuals to do, is promising and has a large body of scientific evidence to support it. This large body of research suggests a kind of cognitive behaviour therapy called exposure and response prevention (ERP) is significantly helping people with OCD. ERP in brief: is about confronting fears, while at the same time not doing any escape or safety behaviours. For OCD this means confronting the fears related to the obsession, while not doing any compulsions or neutralizing activities. The goal of ERP is to help the person experience habituation to their fear. There are a number of theoretical suggestions behind what habituation is, from brain learning, fear extinction to increased mastery and self efficacy. What is important however is that when a person with OCD decides to do ERP, that they are committed to it.

More on ERP and CBT in future posts. Go to for more information on OCD


Many researchers, sufferers of OCD and therapists have considered OCD to be an illness about ‘doubting‘. Even though, most of the time, an individual suffering with OCD knows rationally that their obsessions are unrealistic, or are about overestimations of danger, or about misappraisals of situations, they struggle with “yes but” or “what if” something does or can happen? It can be very difficult and sometimes counter productive to try and talk or rationalize one’s way out of these doubting obsession.

What often appears to be very time-consuming for many individuals with OCD are the constant internal fights with their doubt. Even when an OCD sufferer knows that their fear is very unlikely to happen to them, they still consider the possibility of it happening.

Learn a little more about OCD in this great video, as David Tolin explains what OCD is!


kNOw OCD is a resource blog dedicated to those living with obsessive compulsive disorder and those interested in treating or wanting to know more about the condition.

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