Seeking advice regarding OCD and fear of negative psychic influences

#1
Hi

I'm new to this forum, but I'm a long time follower of Skeptiko.

Okay, here's the thing. I have OCD, and one way in which this has manifested itself is as a fear of negative psychic influences, such as possession. Now, I know that even among believers of psychic possession, it is generally seen as a rare event. And until a few days ago, this fear wasn't that much of a problem. Yes, I had been doing some protective rituals and stuff which would have struck some people as a little bit paranoid, but it wasn't a hindrance in my day to day life. However, the other day something happened that made me a lot more worried.

So I have been seeing a psychologist for a while, and we have been doing cognitive behavioral therapy, which is based on exposing yourself to what you fear. So if you're afraid of touching door handles because you believe you will be contaminated with some disease, you gradually expose yourself to this fear, until it is no longer perceived as a threat and you can touch door handles without getting panicked. I have great respect for this method, and it has been of great help to me. However, the other day, my psychologist proposed that why don't we treat your fear of psychic possession by saying things to the effect that evil spirits are welcome to possess you. Since just saying something isn't supposed to have any effect on the world, it shouldn't be a problem. I was instantly reluctant to this idea. Welcoming evil spirits didn't seem like a good idea if psychic possession indeed is for real. So I tried to evade doing it by saying I found it highly uncomfortable etc. However, my psychologist answered that doing uncomfortable things is the very point of cognitive behavioral therapy. And then he somehow got me to do it. I wasn't able to refuse. Now I don't want to lay any blame on him because he didn't force me to do it in any way, and his intention was of course to help me. But that was what happened.

So now I haven't been able to sleep well for a few days, my stomach has been really weird all the time, and I have been obsessing about the possibility of possession or other negative psychic influences. I know that getting panicked isn't going to help so I'm trying to keep calm, but the fact that I said things to the effect that "evil spirits are welcome" is really bothering me, and I'm at a loss what to do.

I would greatly appreciate advice. Thanks.

/ Future Farmer
 
#2
Hi

I'm new to this forum, but I'm a long time follower of Skeptiko.

Okay, here's the thing. I have OCD, and one way in which this has manifested itself is as a fear of negative psychic influences, such as possession. Now, I know that even among believers of psychic possession, it is generally seen as a rare event. And until a few days ago, this fear wasn't that much of a problem. Yes, I had been doing some protective rituals and stuff which would have struck some people as a little bit paranoid, but it wasn't a hindrance in my day to day life. However, the other day something happened that made me a lot more worried.

So I have been seeing a psychologist for a while, and we have been doing cognitive behavioral therapy, which is based on exposing yourself to what you fear. So if you're afraid of touching door handles because you believe you will be contaminated with some disease, you gradually expose yourself to this fear, until it is no longer perceived as a threat and you can touch door handles without getting panicked. I have great respect for this method, and it has been of great help to me. However, the other day, my psychologist proposed that why don't we treat your fear of psychic possession by saying things to the effect that evil spirits are welcome to possess you. Since just saying something isn't supposed to have any effect on the world, it shouldn't be a problem. I was instantly reluctant to this idea. Welcoming evil spirits didn't seem like a good idea if psychic possession indeed is for real. So I tried to evade doing it by saying I found it highly uncomfortable etc. However, my psychologist answered that doing uncomfortable things is the very point of cognitive behavioral therapy. And then he somehow got me to do it. I wasn't able to refuse. Now I don't want to lay any blame on him because he didn't force me to do it in any way, and his intention was of course to help me. But that was what happened.

So now I haven't been able to sleep well for a few days, my stomach has been really weird all the time, and I have been obsessing about the possibility of possession or other negative psychic influences. I know that getting panicked isn't going to help so I'm trying to keep calm, but the fact that I said things to the effect that "evil spirits are welcome" is really bothering me, and I'm at a loss what to do.

I would greatly appreciate advice. Thanks.

/ Future Farmer
Its been a few days you said and nothing has happened. I bet nothing happened today and tomorrow will be just like today. Just take one day at a time.
 
#3
However, the other day, my psychologist proposed that why don't we treat your fear of psychic possession by saying things to the effect that evil spirits are welcome to possess you.
It might be helpful to find a therapist who specializes in spiritual issues. Maybe this will help:
Therapists who specialize in spiritual issues: http://forum.mind-energy.net/forum/...-experience-with-psychic-and-spiritual-issues

Also, you may already know this, OCD can be a symptom of anxiety. In some cases treating the underlying anxiety will help the OCD.
 
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S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#4
So now I haven't been able to sleep well for a few days, my stomach has been really weird all the time, and I have been obsessing about the possibility of possession or other negative psychic influences. I know that getting panicked isn't going to help so I'm trying to keep calm, but the fact that I said things to the effect that "evil spirits are welcome" is really bothering me, and I'm at a loss what to do.
It seems to me that either you are being attacked by spirits - which AFAIK may or may not exist - or you are experiencing psychosomatic reactions based on your own anxiety about possible spirits.

My initial impression is there are no spirits involved in this case. Your own worry is making you nauseous, which you are then taking as a sign of spiritual attack and thus making your own situation worse. It's basically a "nocebo effect" where your belief is what is causing the negative feeling in your stomach.

However, I don't believe it's a good idea to try and get medical advice from an online message board. Better to seek out trained professionals, even if it's just a hotline.
 
#6
Hello, Future Farmer, I hope all is well today and things are calm for you now. I was just curious if you happened to come to this forum to discuss this issue because Skeptiko forums have made your feel comfortable in the past? There are a great, many, helpful people here on both sides of the fence. If you're having a tough time and just need people to talk to about this then I'm sure some of us would be glad to lend an ear, especially given that most people here will be happy to have conversations within a framework that encompasses psychic phenomena.

That being said, I agree with what Sciborg has stated above. It is wise to get professional help on this topic if you plan to overcome it. But, if you are just having an off night and need relaxation then some of us would be glad to talk...
 
#7
Pardon me, but there's no compulsion (behavior) here. This is clear-cut anxiety (obsession). Anyhow, I suspect a spiritual therapist will be no more effective than otherwise. I'd recommend a psychiatrist. Remember: Drugs are your friend.

The problem with CBT is it can exacerbate anxiety by enhancing dual states (eg. anxiety about the anxiety). I suspect 'diversionary' activities/behaviors are more effective-- but probably not as effective as the right medication.

That's just my 2 cents. I hope you feel better, FF. Take it easy!
 
#8
Hello Future Farmer,

I suppose it might help to say the exact opposite - possible repeatedly, "Evil spirits are not welcome to invade my body!"

Next, I would point out to your psychiatrist (if you are continuing with him), that since he does not believe in evil spirits, he can't really advise you in such matters. I would refuse absolutely to repeat the exercise he gave you.

If you can find a therapist to deal with spiritual issues, fine - but I'll bet there are a fair few charlatans in that business :(

Do you fear a lot of other things? If you do, and they don't really seem plausible, then maybe you should think of your fear of negative ψ in the same way, but I would still not deliberately try to invoke such a thing!

(Those are thoughts off the top of my head - I am not speaking from knowledge)

David
 
#9
Thanks again for all the advice and support.

@TravisMontgomery
Yes, I've had a positive experience reading around on the Skeptiko forums in the past, and that's why I chose to write about this here.

@Formal Dining Room Set
I've taken medication in the past and it's been of great help, so I would consider doing it again if things get worse, but for the moment I think I will try to deal with it in other ways. And if I decide to consult some kind of spiritual therapist, I will probably continue to see a regular psychiatrist as well, anyway. As for diversification, there's a great book about that called Brain Lock by Jeffrey M. Schwartz, and I've been using some of his techniques. You're right that in this case diversification may be more effective than CBT, although I think that is a good method too, if used in the right way.

@David Bailey
I guess you're right, but I'll see if I can find a spiritual therapist who seems trustworthy.
Yes I have a lot of other worries, and I see my fear of negative psi as being in the same category. It helps to remember that when one starts to obsess about something.
 
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