"I know intellectually that if I shake somebody's hand that I'm not going to get sick and die."
- Howie Mandel, comedian, actor, television host, and outspoken survivor of OCD.
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a condition in which the individual experiences constant, intrusive thoughts that lead to fear, anxiety, repetitive actions, and general obsessions. A person suffering from OCD may have uncontrollable thoughts and urges to clean. Regardless of how much he or she cleans, however, the thoughts will persist.
OCD usually begins with a core obsession. Depending on the person's condition, he or she may use a ritualistic behavior in an attempt to calm this obsession. Going back to the example mentioned above, a person with a severe phobia of germs may clean obsessively to calm his or her anxiety. This will ease at least some of the related anxiety, but ultimately the thoughts triggering this condition remain.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 1% of adults in the U.S. suffer from OCD, which translates into about 3.18 million people. What's even more alarming, however, is that half (50%) of these cases are considered “severe.”
Doctors and medical practitioners are still trying to determine exactly what causes OCD. However, the general consensus in the medical profession is that OCD is triggered by both psychological and biological factors. Psychological factors include checking the environment for hazards, desire to hoard one's belongings, etc., whereas biological factors may include abnormalities in the brain's ability to produce and release serotonin or a genetic mutation.
Hypnotherapy is a safe and effective therapeutic practice for treating mild-to-severe OCD. When conducted by an experienced hypnotherapist, it can target the root cause of the condition, significantly improving or even curing a patient's OCD.
How is hypnotherapy able to treat OCD? The practice involves coercing a patient into a trance-like state where he or she is neither awake nor asleep. When this occurs, the hypnotherapist can instill new thoughts into the patient's subconscious, essentially training the patient's mind. The goal of hypnotherapy when used to treat OCD is to rewire the patient's brain on a subconscious level so he or she longer experiences the intrusive thoughts that triggered their ritualistic behavior.
In addition to hypnotherapy, OCD can also be treated by focusing the patient's attention towards on something else. If a patient normally spend a large portion of the day cleaning, perhaps they can learn to focus this energy on exercising, reading or working.