Twitter @AshleyFulwood ashley@ocduk.org

Time to ditch the term ‘Pure O’?

I was going to give this the title Controversial – Time to ditch the term ‘Pure O’ but actually it really should not be controversial. I know some of you reading this will suffer with ‘Pure O’, but before you dismiss my post, please take a moment to read it and try and understand where I am coming from, because if you do, you will see I am not being controversial at all, I am just trying to do what is right for everyone with OCD.

I first published this on the OCD-UK forums a couple of days ago.

A couple of weeks ago a subject about the methods of private therapists was being discussed, and somehow the topic moved on to a discussion about the term ‘Pure O’. Further to that discussion I am even more convinced of the belief that the term ‘Pure O’ needs to be resigned to the history books, and replaced with another term/phrase.   My reasons for this are not new, I have been harping on about it for some time now. But the primary three reasons are:

  • It’s technically inaccurate.
  • It’s not a medical term.
  • It confuses people into not recognising their own condition accurately.

Now don’t get me wrong, it may be helpful in helping people identify an aspect of OCD that they may not have been aware of  perhaps, but that’s not a good enough reason to continue with a factually inaccurate term, especially if a better and more appropriate phrase can be used instead.

The fact is, and this is backed up by lots of anecdotally evidence from people I speak to through the charity that they mistakenly think they only have purely obsessional thoughts, i.e. that it is Obsessive Disorder (OD) and not Obsessive COMPULSIVE Disorder (OCD). The problem here is if you are failing to recognise symptoms of your own condition, it’s going to make it incredibly more difficult to move forward, which is why I feel strongly about this.

Whilst it’s not a medical term, most OCD specialists will understand what you mean, but for people going to their GP or local therapists and talking about ‘Pure O’, it’s more likely to have therapists confused and scratching their heads, and I am not sure we can blame their lack of training in OCD for not recognising a non-medical term!!!

I know my suggestion that we ditch the term ‘Pure O’ will not be popular with a lot of people, and I suspect some commercial therapists here and in the US will not buy into this, because for some it allows themselves to create a market for themselves by claiming to be ‘Pure O ‘experts.

But going back to ‘Pure O’ there are too many sufferers that read articles online that are led to falsely believe they don’t suffer with any compulsions at all. The fact is it is simply not true, ok so they may not be ‘washing their hands’ but they will engage in at least one, if not most of these:

  • Checking things on Google
  • Checking for reassurance from loved ones or friends
  • Checking own body for arousal or other sensations
  • Physical ‘avoidance’ of people, places or objects
  • Attempt to force and check for ‘feelings’

See the trend here, there’s a physical action taking place, that’s right, a compulsion and if someone, anyone, with any form of OCD wants to recover they have to be able to identify and recognise their illness.  I once said that most forms of OCD include ‘checking’ as a compulsion, and the aforementioned badly and inaccurately named ‘Pure O’ is no different in the fact there is always ‘checking’ taking place. In fact, I might even argue on another day that the average person with what they call ‘Pure O’ will engage in more compulsions than people with other aspects of OCD.

So, a more factually accurate term fore ‘Pure O’  might be Obsessive ‘with less obvious, but still there’ Compulsive Disorder. Now I grant you that’s not as catchy as ‘Pure O’, but it’s a lot more accurate.  I don’t have an answer for what it should be rephrased and renamed to, but maybe it shouldn’t be renamed at all and just ditched.  One of my forum moderators made a good suggestion on the previous discussion that should refer to all forms of the illness the same, i.e. ‘OCD with a theme of……’.  That’s actually not a bad way to bring more awareness and recognition to ‘all’ aspects of OCD when we talk about the subject in the media.

But the bottom line is this, if people are being led to the false misrepresentation that ‘Pure O’ differs from others aspects of OCD, and they are made to believe they don’t have any compulsions, then I am afraid they’re not being helped at all.  So maybe it’s time we drop the term ‘Pure O’.

Book Review: Pulling the Trigger – Unique and Innovative

It’s not very often that you come across a product that is unique and innovative and brings something new to the table.

Pulling the Trigger: OCD, Anxiety, Panic Attacks and Related Depression – The Definitive Survival and Recovery Approach is such a product, a book that stands out from the plethora of recent books about OCD because it combines a first-hand experience of life with OCD and the suffering that comes with it, alongside therapeutic explanations by the very therapist that helped that person recover.

Unlike previous books which use case studies fleetingly, by remaining with Adam’s story from beginning to end it offers context to how the OCD impacts on Adam and allows the reader to fully understand not just the OCD symptoms but how Adam was feeling.  With Lauren’s narration about each aspect of Adam’s journey it really gives that fantastic insight into what was going on and where Adam was going wrong (the mistakes we ALL make when trying to live with OCD).

Reading the book, at times it almost felt like I was sitting in and observing an actual therapy session between the authors, Adam Shaw and Dr Lauren Callaghan and that is precisely what makes this a unique and innovative addition to anybody’s bookshelf of OCD titles.

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Be Inspired!

When Mo Farrah got knocked down in the Olympic 10,000m final all I could hear in my head was the lyrics from that great Chumbawamba song, Tubthumping ….

I get knocked down,
But I get up again
You are never gonna keep me down

As I sat there marvelling at the marvelousness of Mo Farrah crossing the finish line to win his third gold medal (he’s now got himself four) all I could think about was the analogies between athletics and tackling OCD….

This was reinforced a few days later with one of the most amazing pieces of sportsmanship I have ever witnessed occurred when two female athletes (New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin and American Abbey D’Agostino) fell during their 5,000m semi-final run. (Now bear with me, I will get to the OCD stuff in a moment.)

The American was quickly up, but then stopped and helped Hamblin to her feet who was still strewn on the track. The two tried to continue running together but the American quickly realised she had in fact injured her own knee, and she collapsed back on to the track. This time the Kiwi was the one lifting D’Agostino back up. Realising her injury the American urged the Kiwi to run on alone. After painfully completing the final 4 laps of the track the American fell into the arms of the waiting Hamblin. It’s reported they kept encouraging each other not to give up and reach the finish line (you can watch it here).

Now this is where OCD comes in…

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OCD Jokes – Why It’s important to care

Over the weekend the American singer Katy Perry tweeted what she perhaps felt passed for humour in her part of the world.

Katy Perry Tweet about OCD
Katy Perry Tweet about OCD

I’m so OCD I prefer being called CDO…then the letters are in alphabetical order and all is right in the world again.

She also posted:

Katy Perry Tweet about OCD
Katy Perry Tweet about OCD

Now glossing over the fact it is not actually that funny, this kind of thing being posted by someone with over 88 million followers really does nothing positive  to change misconceptions about OCD.  In fact it adds to the false stereotype that OCD is about being quirky and needing things just right.

OCD-UK did politely reply to ask if we can send some information about OCD to the former Mrs Brand.  As you can imagine, various responses followed from her fans and our followers.  One person commented she is allowed to make such comments because she has OCD.   The justification for such a claim came from this quote from Elle magazine.

The 28-year-old singer openly admitted she suffers with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which can cause her to freak out if things disturbed in her normal routine.  “I have OCD tendencies. I do strange things with buttoning everything up and colour coordinating it, hanging it in a certain way”.

Now it is not my place to say if she suffers with OCD or not, the quote above is not sufficient evidence there is significant disruption and impact on her life to form a basis for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, the key being the word ‘disorder’ of course.  But it actually does not matter if she suffers or not, the tweet was incredibly unhelpful for OCD awareness.

Sadly, until we have some kind of D-Day awareness campaign which emphasises the D in OCD, such crass jokes will continue. On a personal level I am not offended by such jokes but I am deeply saddened when someone of such stature chooses to mock OCD.

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