Sunday, February 8, 2009

OCD, Mania and the Full Moon

My wife and I heard an owl hooting as we were gazing at the full moon tonight.  No doubt that double event had some magical significance in ancient folklore. It was significant for another reason to me.  All day long, comments appeared from a blogger who had been asked time after time NOT to post on my blog due to her bigoted, homophobia. Today, however, she must have been in a severe manic stage of her OCD, perhaps influenced by the full moon.

I checked the signs of mania on and here are some that fit in nicely with today's 'posting' events:

Signs and symptoms of mania (or a manic episode) include:

  • Increased energy, activity, and restlessness

  • Excessively "high," overly good, euphoric mood

  • Racing thoughts and talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another

  • Unrealistic beliefs in one's abilities and powers

  • Poor judgment

  • A lasting period of behavior that is different from usual

  • Provocative, intrusive, or aggressive behavior

  • Denial that anything is wrong
That last one, denial of any wrong-doing, always accompanies her posting-mania.  The aggression was noted in the [now] deleted remarks.

The Fundamentalist Christian, I have observed, is a prime candidate for suffering OCD.  The obsession with all things biblical- the sin, the damnation, the end-times scenario- constantly feed the obsession.  The compulsion, naturally, is in attempting to do exactly as the Bible demands, no ifs, ands or buts.  After all, the all-powerful One is always watching, always taking notes on behavior, thoughts, and deeds.  It is an all-consuming, draining task.

Yet, and compounding the obsession, is the fact that other people, the unclean, the fallen-away Christian, the pagan, the atheist must be corralled for God too.  These people need to feel the wrath of their sinfulness.  As a consequence, the obsession to preach to these sinners becomes a daunting daily mission.  This mission never ends; the unclean are all around and their souls need a thorough cleansing with the blood of Jesus.

The need for spiritual cleansing of self and others is much more severe than the typical and common germ-phobics who need to wash their hands excessively in order not to be infected. Treatment for the hand-washing compulsion, besides prescriptive medicine, includes behavioral therapies which will expose the patient to 'germ-laden' situations and require the patient to resist the washing compulsion.  Slowly, if successful, the patient begins to tolerate the germs that may be on their hands.

This behavioral psychotherapy, however, it much more difficult in cases of religious neuroses.  Because these obsessions and compulsions are intertwined in the individual’s religious life, it may be difficult for the individual to recognize that he or she has a psychiatric condition. Religious OCD suffers are among the least likely to seek treatment because of their difficulty in determining where the line is that separates the obsessive ritual from regular spirituality.

The cogitative-behavior therapy, if selected [in combination with anxiety-reducing drugs] helps the patient learn to manage their 'rituals' and impulses through gradual, controlled exposure. The patient needs to accept the intrusive thought but reject the compulsion.

Success rates for OCD are about 60% and, like alcoholism, is never totally overcome. Patients will be able to gain control of their illness to a large degree, however.  Data indicates that religious OCD is seen in 1 out of 50 OCD cases which, due to its relative infrequency, requires the patient to seek out 'specialists' in this field.

Lefty Blogs