Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Community
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Avatar universal

Reassurance Seeking

I have noticed that posters here ask over and over again for reassurance. That is one of the biggest compulsions that ever existed. Seeking reassurance keeps OCD fears going strong. Looking for reassurance comes in many forms, asking others, searching the internet, self searching, "is it really true? No, it can't be true...,etc), HIV testing (boy have we seen a rash on that one), etc. And what happens? Does the OCD sufferer get that magic feeling that all is okay and is never bothered by the obsession again. Hardly! The reassurance is questioned. Well, the tests may have gotten switched, that person is only saying things are ok to get me off her back, there could always be an exception to the rule, it could only happen to me even if there is a 99% chance it would not happen, etc., blah, blah, blah.

Please read the following articles by OCD experts to find out just how counter productive seeking reassurance is, and then try to live with the anxiety that MAYBE what you fear will happen, as that is the only way to healing.

This is the single best quote I have ever read on reassurance seeking by the OCD center of Los Angeles, and Jon Hersfield.

The Problem with Reassurance

So why is reassurance such a big deal? To put it in clinical terms, when an individual seeks reassurance, they reinforce that they are unable to tolerate the discomfort of the uncertainty they are experiencing. At the same time, they reinforce that the best way to alleviate the discomfort of that uncertainty is to compulsively seek reassurance.

Mindfulness WorkshopConcurrently, reassurance as a behavior sends the message to the brain that whatever unwanted thought set these events into motion must be terribly significant.  “If he goes through all of this just to know for sure, then this thought must be really important!”

Finally, reassurance is addictive. If reassurance were a substance, it would be considered right up there with crack cocaine. One is never enough, a few makes you want more, tolerance is constantly on the rise, and withdrawal hurts. In other words, people with OCD and related conditions who compulsively seek reassurance get a quick fix, but actually worsen their discomfort in the long term.

Other articles plus the link to this one:







7 Responses
Avatar universal
A lot of what you say is true Carol - I think I'm guilty of searching for reassurance constantly.  Thank you for taking time out of your busy personal life to help others.  It's much appreciated.
Avatar universal
That's kind of you to say so, and I really appreciate helping people who appreciate being helped. thanks!
Avatar universal
Carol, really thank you.
Problem is, with OCD we have full insight of our problem (I do at least), I really started taking ur advise in consideration and instead of keep seeking reassurance, I'm trying to just ignore the thoughts and fears and really WEAKEN by time.

Again, THANK YOU carol
Avatar universal
You're welcome! reassurance seeking is one of the worst compulsions, and it is not often recognized as one.
Avatar universal
OCD is like a monster living in the basement who is extremely hungry and will do anything to try and beg for food. When you feed him a Big Mac or a steak (by doing a compulsion), he grows bigger and stronger and even more hungry. Your job is to starve him or to just throw him a raisin or popcorn kernel. This means not doing a compulsion when you have an obsession. He is NOT going to be happy because he is used to how you have been feeding him. He WILL protest (your anxiety will spike) but if you wait it out, he will shrink due to the starvation until he becomes an annoying little mouse running around downstairs. He will NEVER leave the house, but a squeaky little mouse is a lot easier to deal with than a giant monster. You can't control the fact that he is an unwanted roommate, but you can control the amount that you feed him.
Avatar universal
I'm trying to take your advise by word... Started from last night.
I'm just ignoring the feelings I have, I told myself to just stop fighting them and accept their presence without reacting to them.
I already feel better, I'm working in the hospital today and feeling much better
Avatar universal
Very happy to hear that. Resisting is making it stronger as it is training your brain to recognize that thought as worthy of your super attention if you are giving this much energy and effort into trying to not think about it.

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