Monday, June 09, 2014

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Rituals

My daughter also has OCD.  Today at therapy Eric, her therapist did an interesting object lesson.  He had a bunch of cut papers in front of him. He told my daughter that they represented germs.  Some germs are healthy ( ie stomach bacteria)  and some germs cause things like the flu.  So he had us put happy faces on some papers (for harmless germs) and sad faces on others (for dangerous germs).  So we did.  Then he told us to try and drop them into a vase.   We did.  Only a few floated in.  Even at the end when I  picked a handful off the floor and dropped them all at the same time only a couple made it into the jar.  6 in fact out of 66 papers.  Two of them had happy faces on them,   That meant only 4 out of 66 germs were actually going to hurt a person..  So OCD, which says all germs are dangerous and all germs are on that apple, is not telling the truth.  Most germs fall by the wayside.

Hmmmm goes Karin.  That's a new way of looking at things.  My picture was that germs were like peanut butter (or jam, for any peanut allergists out there). Once I  touched something contaminated they all stuck to me  and then would proceed  to dirty up every thing I touched afterwards- unless I washed NOW, or I could wash the whole house later.

But this picture of a vase with germs trying to touch it and only a few getting in ( or picture a hand held out for all the germs to fall onto and only a few do) is a whole different way of looking at contamination OCD.
Can this work for my  laundry?  For the garbage cans?  for the black marks in the seams of library books?
It sort of did.  I was reading this evening and sure enough up pops a black spot in the middle of the seam of a page.  I ignored it.  After all, if 4/66 = 2/33  that is way less than 50% chance o f that piece of dirt  having enough germs on it to make the rest of my house dirty.  I didn't touch it ( I don't think), mind you.  I guess that would be the next step.   I have stopped reading books because of that.

Same for laundry?  If a piece of dirty laundry touches my clothes, does that make them dirty?  I say (or OCD says)  YES.  But it the above scene is true, then the amount of contaminating harmful germs isn't enough to worry about.   I could just wash my hands- which would have the most contact with the clothes and detergent bottles etc.  That's what I  used to do, in that long- ago world of PRE - contamination OCD.
What do you think?  This could save a lot of showering or clothes changing.

1 comment:

  1. That's a really cool way of visualizing the germ factor. I hadn't considered it that way either. Very interesting.