OCD: Have you ministered to someone with obsessions and compulsions?
I recently had an opportunity to speak with a young teen who suffers with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Being on the verge of tears she described the intensity of doing battle with relentless thoughts of being contaminated, 400 to 500 times an hour.
Imagine having terrifying thoughts that keep coming like an invading army, wave after wave, and you being the only one to stop it?
Spiritual and Biological Roots?
OCD is both spiritual and biological. Obsessions are thoughts, impulses, or images that are relentless. When we think about obsessions we tend to think about something we desperately want, but this is not the case with OCD. These obsessions are unwanted and are viewed as threatening. Compulsions are repeated behaviors or mental acts that are intended to prevent or stop the debilitating anxiety or worry the obsessions produce. These obsessions compel action, but the actions taken are not necessarily rational behaviors or mental acts that correspond to the obsession. With OCD seemingly on the rise, we need to understand it and know how to counsel someone with it.
The current secular method is a combination of medicine plus behavioral counseling. Interestingly, counseling alone can be just as effective, where medication alone cannot. This indicates that OCD is yet to be determined as rooted in biology. Therefore, it is appropriately described as a disorder and not a disease. However, it needs to be mentioned that OCD behavior has been linked to some strains of the strep virus and from head injuries. For the counselor this complicates the issue on how to counsel someone with OCD. Is it rooted in our biology, in our hearts or both?
We tend to look at problems we want to solve from a cause and effect formula. However, there are some things that can’t be addressed as a simple cause and effect. Instead, we need to address issues like OCD by understanding that the heart and body are inseparable and cannot be treated separately, but in tandem.
Understanding OCD and the Heart
We need to understand that even though the body / brain can affect the way we respond from our heart, the body / brain cannot make the heart act. The reason is that the heart is the control center for our thoughts, feelings, actions, words, choices, morals and beliefs. For example, if you have ever experienced the flu with its symptoms of fever, aches, nausea, vomiting and lethargy you may have responded with something like, “Just kill me now.”
The interpretation from the heart as being unbearable establishes the desire to be dead, perceived relief. The more one contemplates how bad he feels the more the symptoms become exaggerated. Likewise with OCD, a cycle of thoughts based on how one feels begins with the symptoms being exaggerated, until temporary relief comes through compulsive behaviors. This is a simple illustration of how the person struggling with OCD cycles.
The crux of OCD is rooted in having to be 100% certain. This means that there is a trust issue. Where there is a trust issue there is a control issue. Directing attention to Who God is and His sovereignty is going to be the battle, but the Word is living and active and has the power to demolish the strong holds that a person doesn’t. This offers hope and sets people free from their OCD.
If you would like more detailed information about how we can help your loved one who is struggling with OCD behaviors, we would welcome the opportunity to talk with you. Since 1989, BCC has helped people find freedom and confidence in understanding who God made them to be and helping them find hope by overcoming paralyzing fear. You can contact us here.