OCD & Your Smartphone
OCD loves your smartphone.
If an intrusive thought is the seasoned cedar logs on a beautiful camp fire then a compulsion is a plumbed line of gasoline. This combination makes for a raging fire both dependent on each other to burn. No more wood, no more fire. Lots of wood and no additional fuel, fire eventually burns out. This is common analogy used when describing OCD, and part of one’s treatment is to reduce compulsions, essentially choking the gasoline line, and suffocating the fire. OCD is cunning, tricky, and apparently hip. Similar to many baby-boomers, OCD took a little time getting use to the mobile handheld device, understanding its potential, and being efficient in its operation. It’s not only cunning but relentless. Time is always on its side. It has become proficient in the use of search engines, and now the ability to take photos and video. OCD can now force its host to search anything, at any moment, about any concern - turning technology into more of a hinderance than a help.
Has asbestos been safely removed from this current building?
Could this sensation in my leg be a blood clot?
Could I really be a pedophile?
Did I turn off the stove, and unplug the lamps?
Could I have I hit someone while driving?
Video while walking around my car.
The trick OCD plays is convincing its host that the use of the device will ease the distress. Don’t want to worry? Take a quick pic and refer back later. Need evidence you didn’t post that rude comment? Take a quick screenshot? This trap is equivalent to hooking up another gasoline line to the fire. People get stuck reviewing their pictures and videos, and become unable to delete them filling up their devices and limiting their ability to take pictures of loved ones (and their lunch!) instead. Additionally, others fear that their use of their own device will become dangerous and actually have their phones turned off for fear they may accidentally post something inappropriate, or impulsively call and yell at someone. These devices are intended to make our lives easier, not worse.
If you feel comfortable sharing, what are some ways you've used technology to feed compulsions? How has it affected the way you use your devices?
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Kevin Ashworth, co-director of NW Anxiety Institute, specializes in the treatment of severe anxiety disorders