Tip #4 Sleight of hand

Well, don’t ever think that you can be smarter than your brain. It will get you in ways that you have never  thought possible before. I had to learn this the hard way with my ROCD. But once I knew how the trick was done I wasn’t fooled again (at least as easily!).

See this video and realise how un-awesome it is at the end. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YN0I-TZFn58

Our brain has its own tricks for survival and functioning. The problem is when these same tricks are the cause of much wrong doing in ROCD. From my experience the most common ones are:

  • Association
  • Exclusion
  • Addiction

I call this the sleight of hand of the brain in ROCD. Those who are familiar with the English language know what the expression sleight of hand means. For those who aren’t here is the wikipedia link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleight_of_hand

Association starts with the expectation of wanting to feel/think or not feel/think a certain way. For example, the boyfriend or girlfriend is away for awhile and we do not miss him much for some reason. If that happens it is because we do not have real feelings for that person. Can you see the sleight of hand here of association? We might have been very busy,  tired or we just not are the missing type very much. But the brain went and decided that that association is true. And from what I have seen in OCD not just ROCD, it tends to go and pick the worst case scenario. The other classic one is I feel anxiety when I am with the other person then if this was right I would not be feeling this way.

Exclusion is another funny one. Once we make our minds about something the brain goes and looks for an exclusion to the rule. Ufff, I finally found out that I have ROCD. Once you achieve that “certainty” your brain starts to think about the exception. “Maybe it isn’t true because this and this happened or I feel this and that way” and there it goes 3.5 hours of thinking down the drain.

Addiction, this one is less obvious. But simple to explain. The more we think about something the more we want to think about it. It is very true with ROCD and it creates almost an addiction to trying to find the answers or evidence to our questions. The fact that we engage in problem solving  with our brain is almost a release from stress. Only to find out something that we do not want to find out with our questioning. YOUR BRAIN WANTS YOU TO KEEP LOOKING FOR AN ANSWER. Then we start all over again. Oh, and another extension of this is being obsessed about our symptoms and talking endlessly about them. More about this in the next post.

Here is an exercise for you. Can you think about how you are falling prey to any of these brain tricks by your ROCD?


  1. I have nowhere seen any person suffering from ROCD to feel disconnected from their partner. I cannot recall feelings I was having with him, I cannot feel him now, I am feeling sort of depersonalised. That is why I feel that it might not be ROCD but something else. Because I dont question if I love him any more, I have passed to thinking that I actually never loved him and that it was all an illusion. I know our story, but I cannot feel it as mine any more. I think of myslef that was happy in that relationship as someone else.

    1. Hi thanks for your comments. What you have just described is exactly the reason why I say to people to focus on the “O” and not the “R”. There is no such thing as a disease called ROCD. The real disease is OCD and the object of your obsessive thinking might be relationships. OCD is part of a bigger group of diseases classed as anxiety disorders as the anxiety is the common denominator. At the height of anxiety, you can suffer panic attacks which can also let you feeling in a “depersonalised” state and emotionally numb amongst other things. What you have to work out is if you have OCD or not. If you go about it trying to see if you have ROCD, it will only lead to more confusion…

      1. But how can I act normal with him if this is my main cause of anxiety, that I am not feeling as I used to? it doesnt help my anxiety at all to be around him. I feel like running away, but at the same time I know that this is not a solution. He is the only one that knows all my thoughts, reads with me and he says he will be by my side always. But I am not sure whether I can pass it with him around…

        I apologize for the extreme complains, but this blog was sort of revelation for me. I dont feel so much alone any more. Thank you.

      2. Well first of all you have to recognise that the problem is not your boyfriend. The problem is your brain. That sort of anxiety is not a normal thing. In fact that is a sign of a broken brain. I know that because I was there before. And this is the issue that you have to focus on. That your brain is not functioning properly. And this is where you need to focus on.

        Second, running away is not going to fix your brain. It is the same as saying ” I will avoid drinking milk because my arm is broken” . In fact you need milk more than ever when your arm is broken.

        Have look on the blog for possible ways of moving forward…the most important thing is doing not thinking.

      3. Thank you so much for the patience. I have problem accepting the not thinking, because then I feel I am not dealing with the problem but let time pass. And in the meanwhile I am torturing him as well and this affects me more. Last two days I am working more on mindfulness techniques and enjoying other things at least that I used to enjoy, but I cannot do the same when I am with him, terrifying thoughts and questions keep popping all the time…

      4. Yes, the more thinking you will do the worst it will become. What happened is that you trained your brain to associate danger (anxiety) with your boyfriend. The bad news is that you can’t just think the opposite and solve the problem. That is not how the brain works. Your brain does not know reason, you do. The good news is that you can retrain your brain so that your anxiety decreases. And when your anxiety decreases your “danger” thoughts will decrease as well. Maybe you have avoided him as well on occasions, which is not really good. Because this only reinforces the brain’s view that he is a potential threat…So you should carry on with the mindfulness tips and other tips on the blog.

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