Question: Symptoms of OCD, saving, collecting, and hoarding; also shopping pushed by anxiety, relieved by raising my Zoloft to 250mg a day. What is the relationship between “magical thinking” and OCD. My Doctor gave me an excellent tape of a lecture on “the illusion of absolute safety” we get from our parents and carry into adult life. I am currently in therapy, and we are discussing my personal magical thinking related to objects I carry, and purchase compulsively. Any comments on the relationship between the “thinking” and OCD, or sources of reading in this area?
Answer 1: Magical thinking is a common problem in people with OCD but not exclusive to OCD. Since you have OCD and mention therapy I will comment on what does and doesn’t work in treating OCD. There are many types of therapy but only Cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to be useful in treating OCD. This can include some discussion of things like magical thinking but should also include exposure to the things that cause anxiety and prevention of compulsive rituals. Continued near the bottom of this page.
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Answer 2: Maybe in some cases our parents inculcate us with their neuroses, e.g., illusions of absolute safety, which we then carry through our own lives, or maybe it just seems that way. In many other cases, people develop their own neuroses or illusions without any help from their parents. It turns out not to make much of a difference (if at all) where they come from, and time spent investigating the source is simply time wasted. Instead of discussing the (presumably symbolic) meaning of the objects you carry, I suggest you get into behavior therapy, which will focus on getting you to the point where you don’t need to collect, hoard, or carry them. That is where you want to get, isn’t it? Magical thinking is simply a term to describe irrational thinking along the lines of, “If I don’t buy/carry this object with me, something terrible will happen to my kids.” There is absolutely no reason to investigate “why” you have this irrational idea, although lots of therapists still believe there is. They need to catch up on the current thinking in this area. Good luck.