OCD sufferers cannot trust past experiences, making the future even harder to manage.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder makes it hard to predict good future outcomes.
- A new study at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem found that OCD sufferers often do not trust their past experiences.
- Researchers hope to develop therapeutic means for improving goal-directed behaviors in sufferers.
Brandon Petulla sits on the sofa at home in New York on October 28, 2017. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) turned a young photographers life into a living hell - by convincing him he had sold his soul to the devil.
Photo: Ruaridh Connellan / Barcroft Media via Getty Images<p>The researchers used mathematical models to reach their conclusions—the worse the disorder, the more likely subjects were to be shocked by mundane outcomes. They might not thrive in uncertainty, but they appear to expect it. As Fradkin <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/02/200227144320.htm" target="_blank">puts it</a>,</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Our findings highlight a novel framework for understanding the cognitive and computational process that gives rise to obsessive compulsive symptoms. The results also stand in stark contrast with the common preconception of OCD as being characterized by inflexible behavior, distinguished by overreliance on past experience."</p><p>This research should also help support the growing literature that shows how important environment is to disease. Environmental triggers bear influence across the spectrum of mental health disorders. Humans are not separate from nature; we are an integral part of it. Modern medicine has a tendency to isolate the neurochemistry of disorders from the environment that it appears in, which only explains the <em>what</em>, not the <em>why</em>. Therapeutic courses needs both. </p><p>As the authors conclude, "excessive transition uncertainty," the inability to predict future outcomes, "is expected to affect not only reliance on the past, but also goal-directed behavior." We all predict based on past experiences, but when you distrust the past, it becomes impossible to trust the future. This is the feedback loop OCD sufferers live inside of. Finding a way out remains the challenge therapists and patients face. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a>. His next book is "</em><em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>