4 Steps in the Self-Treatment of OCD

The critical first step is to learn to recognize obsessive thoughts and compulsive urges. You don’t want to do this in a merely superficial way; rather, you must work to gain a deep understanding that the feeling that is so bothersome at the moment is an obsessive feeling or a compulsive urge. To do so, it is important to increase your mindful awareness that these intrusive thoughts and urges are symptoms of a medical disorder.  Recognize that the intrusive obsessive thoughts and urges are the RESULT OF OCD.

The key to this approach to treating OCD can be summed up in one sentence: “It’s not me–it’s my OCD.”  You are working toward a deep understanding of why the urge to check that lock or why the thought that “my hands are dirty” can be so powerful and overwhelming. If you know the thought makes no sense, why do you respond to it? Understanding why the thought is so strong and why it won’t go away is the key to increasing your willpower and enabling you to fight off the urge to wash or check.  The goal is to learn to reattribute the intensity of the thought or urge to its real cause, to recognize that the feeling and the discomfort are due to a biochemical imbalance in the brain. It is OCD–a medical condition.

In refocusing, you have work to do: You must shift the gears yourself.  With effort and focused mindfulness, you are going to do what the caudate nucleus normally does easily and automatically, which is to let you know when to switch to another behavior.  Work around the OCD thoughts by focusing your attention on something else, at least for a few minutes: DO ANOTHER BEHAVIOR.

Do not take the OCD thought at face value. It Is not significant in itself.  You must use your knowledge that OCD symptoms are just meaningless signals, false messages from the brain, so you can refocus and shift gears. You must gather your mental resources, always keeping in mind, “It’s not me–it’s my OCD. It’s not me–it’s just my brain.” Although in the short run, you can’t change your feelings, you can change your behavior.  By changing your behavior, you find that your feelings also change in time.

Source: Brain Lock, by Jeffrey Schwartz, MD., Regan Books, 1996.

Recommended For You:
What to Expect in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Treatment
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
10 Principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
How To Use Positive Affirmations in CBT
Neurofeedback Treatment in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Understanding Affirmations in Therapy
3 Steps to Creating Positive Affirmations
3 Steps to Establish “Prime Time” with your Children


Every website has a story, and your visitors want to hear yours. This space is a great opportunity to give a full background on who you are, what your team does and what your site has to offer. Double click on the text box to start editing your content and make sure to add all the relevant details you want site visitors to know.

If you’re a business, talk about how you started and share your professional journey. Explain your core values, your commitment to customers and how you stand out from the crowd. Add a photo, gallery or video for even more engagement.