There are two aspects to this disorder. According to general psychological and psychiatric definitions, obsession is a kind of thinking disorder. We often hear of “thought loops” or an idea that won’t go away, something that can even keep people preoccupied and dysfunctional. Compulsion on the other hand is the desire to act something out behaviorally. (Lady Macbeth’s recurring guilt and thinking about the murder of Duncan is obsessive, and her handwashing to expiate the guilt is compulsive.
Sometimes the two aspects of what also can be considered a single disorder are found independently. Usually they are found together, as in the Macbeth example.) Regardless of the configuration, people are frequently amazed and chagrined at the amount of useful time and energy that can be wasted in this syndrome. (The thinking is never done, the ritual goes on and on without accomplishing anything.)
Dr. Dan Amen has sponsored clinical research using SPECT scans that show that a particular brain area, the cingulate gyrus buried deep in the cleft between the cerebral hemispheres is often the culprit. Neuroscientists still debate about whether the cingulate is part of the cortex or the emotional limbic system. The limbic seeming part of OCD is the enormous amount of anxiety that surfaces if the activity (cognitive or behavioral) is interrupted. This is why OCD is often listed as an “anxiety disorder.”
Psychotherapeutic methods, have seemed only marginally succesful, while psychotropic drugs such as Anafranil and Prozac (or other SSRI’s) have been used with greater success. At Stone Mountain Center we were originally skeptical as to whether the LENS would have any effect whatever on the problem. We were pleasantly surprised to find that it often did. With repeated treatments following the map or site sort, people just found the old thought loops and rituals diminishing, or seeming too much “to bother with” (a sign that the energy was being drained out of the problem area.)
Used in combination with other approaches, including lifestyle and psychotherapeutic (as well as pharmaceutical if needed) the LENS has shown substantial relief for some OCD sufferers.