Sensorimotor OCD

Recently, quite a few of our members have reported experiencing ‘sensorimotor OCD’. This is a term that seems to be cropping up more and more to describe the intense focus that is given to automatic bodily functions such as swallowing, breathing, blinking and heart-beat. Most people experiencing anxiety report an increased awareness of physiological changes (sweating, heat, shallow breathing, itching, indigestion) but in the instances our members are reporting, the individual becomes hyper-aware of these bodily sensations which form the main part of their OCD. The person starts to worry that they will always be aware of their breathing, for example and this physical sensation combined with the thought that they will constantly be aware becomes quite maddening.
The problem for sufferers of these particular obsessions is that it can seem extraordinarily difficult to treat.
Currently, the best treatment path is exposure response prevention (ERP). Using a CBT model of OCD, the therapy would focus on removing the ‘petals’ from the ‘vicious flow’ see Veale and Wilson Overcoming Obsessive Compulsive Disorder for more detail about this. Also, there are an interesting series of articles by Steve Seay, a psychologist in the US, who has given suggestions for ERPs specific to sensorimotor OCD.

David Adam, author of ‘The Man who Couldn’t Stop’ interviewed on Radio 4

David Adam, the science writer and author of ‘The Man Who Couldn’t Stop’ is interviewed on BBC Radio 4s ‘Inside Science’. David has been shortlisted for the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books. The interview takes place from 14m51s and 21m22s in the show. As a man of science and an OCD sufferer, his views on OCD are particularly interesting as his irrational thoughts confounded his logical and rational approach to the world.

His experience like all other OCD sufferers really demonstrates how OCD cannot be out-thought or rationalised