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Neurotypes

OCD

OCD is rooted in a desire to be absolutely certain of something.
OCD is a neurotype that’s driven by a compulsive desire to be absolutely certain of some piece of information. It has two fundamental components:
Obsession - some object of fixation that the person can’t stop thinking about once triggered. This could be something like “did I turn off the stove? Yeah but is it really off? how do I know? What if the burner malfunctioned?” etc etc etc. These thoughts can be all-consuming.
Compulsion - in order to get some relief from the obsession people with OCD will behave in compulsive behavior designed to satisfy it. In the above example perhaps the person is going to turn the stove on and off a half a dozen times just to be sure it’s really off.

OCD is frequently caricatured in the media — it’s not about needing your hands to be clean all the time or being annoying with light switches, it’s an all-consuming and all-burning need to take care of a problem that is looming without any relief in sight.
“Pure O” OCD
One thing I used to struggle with is called “Pure O” OCD. In this variation of classic OCD the compulsive behavior is actually cognitive. You’re not flipping a light switch, you’re talking yourself through some arguments that will allow you to stop stressing out.
Discovering the
@OCD Center of LA
was life changing for me. Their essays about “Pure O” helped me to understand what was happening to me: I was suffering from what they call “Gay OCD”, or a persistent insecurity that my sexuality was actually different than I thought it was. That’s right — I lost a LOT of sleep in my life worried that I was gay and didn’t know it.
Here’s what I came to understand about what was happening to me:
I’d get triggered. Seeing a dude who was well-dressed and conventionally handsome in a TV show or whatever would often kick this off, anyone who I thought “should be” attractive.
I’d be overwhelmed with shame that I was struggling with this, and didn’t feel like I could tell anyone because it didn’t make any sense.
Sweat, fear, terror at the idea that the thought might be true. (Even though nothing in my values is terrified of homosexuality).
So I’d work through it — “am I sexually attracted to this person? How would I know? I’m not aroused, but could I be repressed? Let me think about having sex with this person, is that pleasant/tempting or just weird?” etc. Eventually I’d arrive at “No, I’m not gay, I’d know” and my anxiety would go away.
My brain would learn “Ahh, this is a great way to get dopamine — I’ll just give Myk this same thought again, and he can talk me out of it again.”
Goto 1.

What finally broke the pattern for me is that I stopped doing (4) entirely. This whole loop works because you do the work of processing it, comparing it to the evidence, etc. If you stop doing that — if you just tell yourself “yeah ok, probably true, whatever” and go on with your life — the intrusive thoughts will suddenly stop. It’s neat.

OCD Resources
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Link
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1
This website has resources about dealing with “pure O” OCD, which I didn’t even know was a thing. This site changed my life.
Website
2
We are center that does research, education, advocacy & outreach, and clinical work.
Website
3
Information on someone who is interested in the intersection of law and neurodiversity
Website
4
It’s not perfect, but it’s an introduction to neurodiversity in a professional context.
Essay
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OCD Social Media Accounts
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Link
notes
platform
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Yours truly — Twitter is a great place to find me, I’m active here every day.
Twitter
2
Positive behavior intervention for ND, trauma and disability. Content for individuals and caregivers of individuals.
Twitter
3
Introspective Ranting - Resource Sharing - Science Discussions
Twitter
4
Really insightful about adhd autism ocd
Twitter
5
Neurodivergent woman in tech designing access rider building tool to promote access and inclusion for neurokin in screen and media sector.
Twitter
6
Neurodivergent artist, poet and parent
Twitter
7
Rin is an open source software contributor and Technical Community Builder who is multiply neurodivergent. Is an advocate for increasing equity, and accessibility for neurodivergent individuals in tech.
Twitter
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