The initial corrective experience was getting on an airplane to go to a business meeting and having the flight be uneventful. Had it been filled with turbulence or some emergency the flight would not have been a corrective experience.
As is normally the case, the corrective experience needed to be repeated multiple times in order for it to have maximum impact.
2. The young college-age woman who, due to childhood abuse, was convinced that she had no ability to make and keep close friends. This did not make her anxious, but it had caused her to give up on the idea of ever having satisfying friendships. When going to college she was placed in a dorm room with another young woman who wished to be her friend.
Her new friend and dorm mate also introduced her to other young women who were similarly genuine and friendly. As a result, she had multiple corrective experiences demonstrating that she was perfectly capable of making and keeping friends. The erroneous belief that she lacked this capacity was successfully refuted by the corrective experience of being sought out and accepted by other young women.
In combatting OCD the situation is the same. Every person who suffers from OCD clings to some set of unrealistic beliefs that create anxiety. These beliefs must be confronted. Corrective experiences are the ultimate weapon for such confrontations.
Application To OCD
When facing off against OCD you will ultimately need to have experiences that refute the anxiety-provoking thoughts that rattle around in your head.
To make corrective experiences most effective a three-step plan is helpful.
The first step is psycho-education (taking a close look at the specific fears one has that are related to OCD). The second step is to build the practical skills that are necessary for successfully facing down these fears. The third and final step is to engage in activities that crush those fears and replace them with confidence.
An example will help make this more clear. Imagine you have a friend, let’s say a single man in his thirties, who obsessively worries about having his home broken into and vandalized.
Every morning when leaving for work he locks the door, walks to his car, starts the engine, and thinks “Did I twist the doorknob to double-check that the lock is set? Hmmm. I don’t remember twisting the knob. Or did I? Maybe I’m thinking of when I checked it yesterday…. No, it was this morning. I think… but I could be wrong.”
Eventually, he checks the door one more time. Unsurprisingly, he finds that it is locked. “Great” he exclaims out loud, then hurries back to the car checking his watch. Turning the engine over a new worry comes to mind…. “Did I lock the bedroom window?”
“I remember opening it last night when going to sleep and I’m pretty sure I locked it this morning… but maybe not.” He pauses before backing out of the drive, anxiety starting to press in once again. Images of someone breaking into the house, stealing his computer, stereo, maybe even his cat… “No, no one wants my cat.”
“Oh hell, I might as well go back and check. If I don’t I’ll be worried about it all day.”
And so it goes, until the poor guy finally drives off to work.
The corrective experience for this man is pretty straightforward (they usually are). Go to work without double-checking the doors, windows, or anything else. The corrective part of this experience is when he comes home and finds that his house has not been broken into while he was at work.
And after that? Press the ‘REPEAT’ button dozens of times. Yes, at least several dozen times. It is the repetitive process of engaging in one corrective experience after another that causes a literal re-wiring of the brain.
How To Curb Stomp OCD
At this point, we are almost ready to go through the straight forward steps to follow for gaining control over your OCD.