Monday, January 23, 2012

OCD & psi

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can be a primarily psychological problem which represents an attempt to create security and control in the face of anxiety.  The causes of the anxiety may be unconscious.  The age of onset is usually by young adulthood.

OCD can also be a symptom of neurological injury that can appear in an older adult who had no prior signs of it before the neurological injury.

Neurological injury can sometimes precipitate a psychic opening.  When people have a sudden, unplanned psychic opening, they sometimes worry that they are actually having a psychological breakdown of some sort. 

So, I wonder if neuro-OCD might be, in part, a misinterpretation of or reaction to a sudden psychic opening.

Interestingly enough, there appears to be an Internet meme linking OCD with psi, but I can’t find the origin of it.  It’s a cruel conundrum that so many OCD thoughts are dark and feel like premonitions but are *not*, while at the same time OCD might be related to psi in some as yet undefined way.

I developed mild OCD (stove and door checking) in my mid-30s *after* I started taking an antidepressant, and it got much worse in my 40s when I found myself with severe neurological damage after painstakingly withdrawing from the antidepressants.  In the last six years, I have encountered dozens of people with the same story of drug-induced neuro-OCD.

My experience is that I am looking at a stove knob or door lock and just can’t *believe* my eyes.  I don’t feel entirely convinced I’m conscious, present, or accurate.  My memory -- both long- and short-term – also was damaged by the meds.  This has been slowly improving.  Interestingly, as I try various tricks to get through the OCD, I will often have one of my lost long-term memories return to me.  I’ll also have spontaneous insights about current events.

I had a neurofeedback session with the consciousness researcher Anna Wise in September 2009, and she said she had rarely seen anyone with so much waking delta in her decades of experience.  Unfortunately, she has crossed over since then, but she has trained many people to do her type of neurofeedback analysis and I would love to see research done to determine whether other survivors of psych med neuro damage have a similar profile.

She was not sure how to interpret this waking delta, but one usually has more delta when asleep, so this might contribute to explaining my OCD, and why I don’t feel convinced I’m completely conscious when I’m really trying to be sure of what I’m seeing.  Apparently, one can get through much of the day in a chronic, mildly derealized state, but it becomes more of an issue when you really want to be sure you’re seeing accurately.

Anna Wise theorized, in general, that delta waves are the signature of the brain scanning the environment at the instinctual, intuitive, primal level – a kind of radar.  How ironic if increased delta and its super-duper, non-sensory radar effect is getting in the way of quotidian perception about something smack dab in front of your face like a door lock.  But maybe this is a clue to the relationship between OCD (at least neuro-OCD) and psi.

Part of the neurological substrate for OCD appears to be irregularities in the striatum.  The striatum responds both to rewarding and aversive stimuli.  It seems to be involved in judging what’s salient in a given situation (Wiki).

I’m going to throw one more ingredient into this stew.  When people have a psychic opening, they often feel overwhelmed by stimuli, and unable to decide what to pay attention to.  They often have to learn how to actively shut down the flow until they develop habits that will titrate or prioritize the flow automatically.

So, theoretically speaking, we have neuro damage; we have an unexpected psychic opening; and we have a somewhat effective, somewhat ineffective attempt to make sense of the psychic opening and cope with it.  The new flow of information has not been integrated consciously yet.  The brain and psyche are struggling to make sense of the new condition.  When you try to pay attention to something important having to do with safety, it becomes apparent that your attention already has been commandeered.  That’s when you realize you don’t feel quite awake, and lost memories come back, and insights pop up.  It turns out there may be too much going on to allow you to focus on a door lock.

I would like to see a study where they look at people in the throes of psychological OCD or neuro-OCD, record all their free associations, subtract the ones that are clearly based on personal fears and distortions, and see if there are any meaningful instances of clairvoyance, precognition, or telepathy left over.  There’s something about the OCD state that both contains and allows psi, both distorts and channels it.

(There are a few more stew ingredients I’m going to leave out so that the stew doesn’t become tasteless.  But for future reference, I think there are other factors involved in this neuro-psi-OCD, including neuro damage-induced nystagmus; and psychological issues such as doubting one’s own perception or fearing one is mis-remembering or making mistakes without even realizing it; and the experience so many people with neuro damage have of feeling like they have no walls, ceiling, or floor around them anyway so what good is a door lock.  IOW, the idea of checking for safety when you’re in free fall through the universe is like a bad joke.)


  1. " Apparently, one can get through much of the day in a chronic, mildly derealized state, but it becomes more of an issue when you really want to be sure you’re seeing accurately."
    i had this feeling before meds, as in a dream, it was from a GAD, but the durations were very short, often less than an hour,it come from anxiety and go away


  2. Hi my friend! Thanks for supporting my blog! Yes, derealization is certainly a sign of anxiety and a way of managing anxiety. But, it's possible that, in neuro damage, it might be also a direct symptom of the neuro damage itself. It is shocking how long people remain in a derealized state due to psych med neuro damage. But it does heal!

    I will be posting soon about dreaming, and your comment is also interesting in that you touch on the idea that -- either for psychological reasons, or for neurological reasons, or both -- we may sometimes have some of the neurological processes of dreaming happening while we're awake.

  3. "My experience is that I am looking at a stove knob or door lock and just can’t *believe* my eyes. I don’t feel entirely convinced I’m conscious, present, or accurate. My memory -- both long- and short-term – also was damaged by the meds."

    Identical here. Absolutely identical. The good news though, is that, as we all know, we keep walking in the *right* direction, and towards healing. Darn long it has already been, yet, the amount of things I've learnt during this unbelievably atrocious time (physically and emotionally alike) about myself and about the world around could never be over-estimated. The mechanisms we had to apply in our plight, to simply survive the abysmal torture, will stay with us after we're healed. And, paradoxically, despite all that depersonalization/derealization/cognitive dysfunction, and what not, going on, I *still* consider myself being able to understand far far more than in the pre-WD, and pre-SSRIs time. Let us take it day after day, staying patient, and using this time to our advantage; reading about things, exchanging ideas, building, creating, helping those still in the throes of WD. And then... then we will get there...

  4. Ha ha! Still trying to get me to move to the "Right," eh? ;) I think it's really wonderful that, even while you're still in the midst of heavy recovery, you can appreciate that you've learnt so much and understand far, far more now. And you're absolutely right that the mechanisms and strength we have been forced to develop will be transferable to living the good life as we come out of the darkness.

    Now, what remains to be seen is whether some of the unconscious psi that I think is going on as a function of this psych med neuro damage / healing can be tapped into in some way to help us more. We will keep studying and collecting data on that!

  5. I have the checking ocd thing too. For me it's like a problem with short term memory. I check something and then as I'm walking away I can't remember seeing that it was ok so I have to go back and check again, and again, and again.

    1. It's awful, isn't it? I have trouble with the memory angle, too, and have to really reason with myself that I *do* know I just did the check. I pick a code word just for that one occasion, and I note the time on the clock -- this way, I have something unique to recall -- but I still have the doubt once I walk away.