Tuesday, June 15, 2010

More on Overcomming Fears: The OCD Project

Recently, my husband and I were watching VH1's "The OCD Project," which documents a 21 day treatment camp for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder run by Dr. David Tolin. OCD actually has a lot to do with extreme irrational fear. Much of the therapy in the show involves them facing their fears.

The OCD Project Supertrailer

In the tailor, you see a clip where the patients are writing down their fears about what might happen if they don't do their OCD rituals. On the episode, Dr. Tolin has them read what they wrote into a tape recorder. He then uses these recordings as voice-overs for videos he makes called "fear movies"--images depicting their worst fears. He has them watch these films wearing a heartrate monitor, as increases in heartrate indicate anxiety. The films play twice, and during the first run, all of the patients had increases in heart rate in response to seeing their fears. Their rates stabilized when the film ended and then when it played again, their heartrates remained stable because it became less scary after they had seen it--exposure decreased anxiety.

This exercise reminded me of the Fear Release exercise in Hypnobabies, which involves visualizing watching your fears on a screen. I realized that part of how this exercise works is that by seeing our fears, we become less afraid of them.


  1. thanks for your comment, brittany!
    this is an interesting post! i completely agree. the only way to overcome our fears are to come face to face with them.

  2. I think we would have a lot to talk about with regards to how to handle fear in childbirth education, and I think we would agree a lot more than we would disagree! Your posts about Hypnobabies have me intrigued. And coming from a Birthing From Within background, I think you'd be as surprised as I am to find that the different philosophies tend to approach fear in much the same way. Or at least I am being surprised at this by reading through some of your older posts! We all get indoctrinated into what we learn, no? By the way, you are an excellent writer. I'm nursing a flu bug and hanging out at your blog today.