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OCD - How To Identify Personal Magical Rituals

Sep 13, 2008
This article is a shortened excerpt from the book "Tiger by the Tail" available at http://Lulu.com

Tiger by the Tail is the story of my personal recovery from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This is not a scholarly work; it is a memoir. I have no credentials as a health care professional, nor am I a layperson who has done exhaustive research.

So much for what I am notˇwhat I am, is a survivor of OCD who has recovered. I wrote this book for others who would also be survivors and who would find the tools that they need to do so. It is also for those who love, wish to help, or live with someone who is afflicted with this disorder.

There are many good and positive rituals. A valuable ritual might be meditation or prayer. I feel the need to pray and meditate. Nevertheless, if I do not sit or pray, it is all right. Nothing bad will happen. I have not prayed for months at a time without fear of "not praying." Is that a good thing? No. It leaves me cut off from a valuable source of healing. However, there is no sense of doom, punishment, or loss that cannot be reclaimed. Prayer and meditation help me to maintain a sense of serenity. When I stop, my serenity lessens and I become more anxious. That is not a punishment or a penalty anymore than hunger is a penalty for not eating. However, if a ritual begins to have a perceived negative impact for you in itself, or becomes required to prevent some unknown or known catastrophe, then it is not a good ritual. If you fear loss of power, punishment or an unknown or known negative outcome, it is a negative ritual and must be stopped. Don't worry. They have no power. You will be fine. I know you do not believe that yet, but you may soon.

Rituals that must be stopped have common characteristics that make them very easy to identify. They are based on fear or supplication and have a penalty to pay, if not performed. I do realize that many of the world's formal religious rituals could easily be placed in this category. For conveniences sake, let us for the moment exclude such institutional activities and limit this category even further.

Here is how to tell the difference between the punishment that may be described by your chosen faith and the punishment of failing to perform OCD rituals. OCD rituals have a penalty to be paid for not being performed, that is known only to you. If someone else sees it performed or even participated in some manner, but does not understand the purpose of the ritual or the consequences of its failure, it is still secret and is known only to you. If your faith has punishments for failure to adhere to its doctrine, those consequences will be known to all learned practitioners of that faith. They are not a secret. Therefore, we have a few clues to help identify those activities that are actually an Obsessive Compulsive Ritual.

(1) They are secret. No one but you knows their FULL significance.

(2) There is a secret penalty for failure to perform the ritual. This may be something that will occur, which will not occur, or where something or some power might be lost.

(3) There is a special feeling or moment when you know it was properly done. (You may then disbelieve it again a moment later). However, if that feeling is not present, the ritual must be redone properly. For some it can be as simple as hearing a proper "click" when a light switch is turned off or as elusive as a feeling in your mind that says it is satisfied.

Understanding the difference between your Personal Magical Rituals and repetitive tasks or community based religious rituals is critical. You must learn to trust your judgment if you are gong to trust yourself. Trusting yourself is the key.
About the Author
B.Rockrunner is a pen name used by the author of "Tiger by the Tail" A personal story of recovery from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. These articles are edited excerpts from that work.
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