Pure Obsessional Compulsive Disorder is an anxiety based disorder that exists solely in the mind. This particular anxiety condition selects a particular "theme" to terrorize the sufferer with. There are no outward compulsions. There are no turning off light switches a number of times, or washing one's hands repeatedly. Instead, the person that has Pure-O has thoughts that are disturbing to them. These thoughts tend to go against the sufferer's morality, which, as a result, can bring on feelings of guilt, and even depression.
Examples of Pure-O thoughts are violence, cheating on a spouse and homosexuality, just to name a few. These thoughts are termed as "spikes" because they "spike" up in a sufferer's mind at random times, catching them off guard. This then brings on feelings of anxiety and confusion as to why they have them.
Pure-O has been described as a psychological battle that is always taking place in one's mind. On the one hand, a sufferer has troublesome thoughts that may be considered of some importance, but on the other, the sufferer fully well understands that the thoughts do make no sense whatsoever. Quite often, the thoughts do involve the sufferer committing an act, such as being violent toward somebody, or kissing somebody of the same sex if a Pure-O sufferer is terrorized with a homosexuality theme.
Following the troublesome thoughts, the sufferer will most likely start to ruminate. This is when the thoughts will be analyzed and the person suffering with these thoughts will constantly keep thinking about ways to overcome them and try to figure out why they have them. As a result, this brings on even more anxiety than the thoughts themselves, and ultimately, it is the rumination and anxiety that keeps afflicting the sufferer with the thoughts. The brain thinks these thoughts are important, and as a security measure, keeps bringing up these troublesome thoughts as a form of "protection". This explains why there seems to be a question with the thoughts, ie "will I act on this thought and do something silly?"
Pure-O is normally treated by Cognitive Behavior Therapy. This involves exposing one's self to things that they may have avoided to prevent a disastrous scenario from happening, and altering the anxious attitude that a sufferer has when having the "spikes".
Avoidance is a common problem with OCD sufferers. As an example, a Pure-O sufferer may avoid using knives "just in case" they lose control and stab somebody with them. Somebody afflicted with Pure-O that has a homosexuality theme may try to avoid watching television programs that deal with homosexuality stories.
Even just looking at a knife or gay porn can cause the brain to think of a "spike" thought. But, again, this is a form of "protection", simply because the person had initially overreacted to the thoughts.
CBT will teach a sufferer not to avoid objects and "potentially dangerous" situations. Typical OCD normally involves the sufferer performing some kind of ritual, which is an action to rid themselves of the anxiety. Pure-O involves the sufferer performing a psychological ritual, and avoidance is one example of that.
As well as teaching sufferers not to use avoidance to cope with their issue, a different attitude is also taught to cope with the "spikes". A person who has Pure-O is probably used to telling themselves that the thoughts are dangerous to themselves and others around them, but that they could never do the things that the "spikes" describe. As an example, CBT will teach a person, inflicted with Pure-O with a violent theme, to tell themselves that it is possible that the scenario that their "spikes" describe could happen. Some CBT therapists will even tell a sufferer to agree with the thoughts as a way to desensitize themselves to any potential risk or threat! Initially, this can bring a heavy amount of anxiety to the sufferer, but with time their anxiety will slowly fall as the brain realizes that the thoughts carry no threat.
Recovery can take up to 12 months, and it is worth noting that the sole aim of CBT is not to rid one's self of the troublesome thoughts, but the anxiety that goes with them. The anxiety is like a "power supply" to the "spikes". When the anxiety is taken away, the "spikes" will decrease. Everybody gets odd thoughts every now and again, but a person who does not have OCD can normally move past them after a mere moment without any feelings of concern. Unfortunately, somebody afflicted with Pure-O cannot do this, and overreaction is a common problem.
Medical research is still ongoing to explain why OCD occurs, however, theories do point out that the amygdala, a part of the brain that controls emotional reactions and memory, is overstimulated, which in turn, causes overreaction to trivial things.
A sensible diet is also recommended for Pure-O sufferers. Consuming "complex" carbohydrates and lean protein will ensure that anxiety based symptoms are minimized. A blood sugar insulin spike caused by white sugar can result in symptoms of anxiety, as well as consuming caffeine, which speeds up the heart rate. Smoking is also not recommended, since it is a stimulant, and like caffeine, speeds up the body's metabolism and heart rate.
Pure-O sufferers should exercise to lift any feelings of depression and anxiety. Leading a healthy life style is certainly a must for this thought to be rare disorder. But recent theories have stated that Pure-O isn't rare at all! It is just that people who suffer with it are too embarrassed, ashamed and scared to admit that they have these thoughts, and unfortunately, many people go through their whole lives plagued with Pure-O, thinking they have something seriously wrong with them, such as a mental disorder, when, actually, this is not true!
If you are reading this, and think you have the symptoms that are described in this article then it is highly recommended that you go to your local doctor to admit your symptoms and start a journey of recovery.