James Hicks, M.D., 50 SIGNS OF MENTAL ILLNESS (Yale University Press)

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Obsessions

You ask yourself if you dressed appropriately. Everyone else is wearing a conservative suit or dress. You knew you shouldn't wear blue. Is blue conservative? From your seat next to the podium, you look around the auditorium, counting the number of people wearing blue. It's a memorial service, not a funeral, but you feel ashamed. You might as well have come in your underwear.

Suddenly you close your eyes, blood rushing to your cheeks. Can they see your underwear? You pull your legs closer together, imagining yourself on stage without pants. What a sick thought!

In a minute you have to stand up and give a short speech, and you can't remember your first line. You'll reach for the microphone and say something ridiculous. What if you tell the audience to check out your underwear? You can't seem to think of anything else. You start to count backwards from ten. By the time you reach zero, you think, you'll be able to picture yourself with your pants back on, and you'll remember what to say.

Ten, nine, eight . . .

This chapter covers the following topics:

  • Obsessions
  • Obsessions in OCD Are Most Commonly About Illness, Doubts, and Symmetry
  • Repetitive Thoughts Can Occur in Several Other Illnesses
  • What Causes OCD?
  • Psychotherapy and Medication Can Be Effective for OCD

This excerpt may not be reproduced without written permission from the publishers.
Fifty Signs of Mental Illness: A Guide to Understanding Mental Health
Yale University Press / New Haven and London
Copyright © 2005 by James Whitney Hicks

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