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When Your Body Takes Over: Sensorimotor & Somatic Awareness OCD

When Your Body Takes Over: Sensorimotor & Somatic Awareness OCD

Have you ever found yourself hyperfocused on the rhythm of your breath, the beat of your heart, or the involuntary act of blinking? If so, you're not alone. In this blog post, we'll explore the world of sensory motor obsessions, specifically focusing on somatic awareness OCD. Many individuals grappling with this condition may not even be aware that it falls under the umbrella of OCD. Understanding this phenomenon could be the key to unlocking your path to recovery.

Defining Sensory Motor OCD:

Sensory motor or somatic awareness OCD involves becoming hyperfocused on automatic bodily processes or sensations. Picture trying to fall asleep while manually controlling your breathing, uncontrollably counting breaths, or fixating on the movement of your mouth or tongue. This blog delves into the less-known world of sensory obsessions, where fears are rarely about harm but often revolve around the relentless nature of heightened awareness.

The Vicious Cycle:

Individuals struggling with this form of OCD often fear that the hyperfocus itself will never cease. Whether it's the awareness of breathing, swallowing, blinking, or other bodily processes, the anxiety associated with these sensations can be overwhelming. Compulsions may involve attempts to control these processes, such as counting breaths or seeking reassurance from others.

Treatment Approaches:

Addressing sensory motor obsessions requires a multifaceted approach. Like any form of anxiety or OCD, the first step involves an educational process. Understanding that the bodily sensation itself is not harmful is crucial. Breaking the link between anxiety and the automatic bodily process is the next step.

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Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP):

One effective treatment option is ERP, which involves repeated voluntary exposure to the sensations. According to Dr. David CER, a clinician at the Behavior Therapy Center of Greater Washington, patients gradually become accustomed to embracing awareness without attempting to avoid or escape it. This exposure helps diminish anxiety over time.

The I.A.M. Technique:

I.A.M. stands for Identify, Allow, and Shift. In the moment when awareness strikes, identifying the sensation, allowing it without resistance, and intentionally shifting focus to something else can be a powerful tool in breaking the cycle.

Body Scan Technique:

Another recommended treatment involves the body scan technique, where awareness is shifted fluidly from one area of the body to another. This practice helps individuals tolerate and eventually diminish sensory awareness. Over time, anxiety fades as the willingness to invite in these sensations grows.

Whether opting for traditional ERP, an incidental ERP approach like the I.A.M. method, or a mindfulness technique such as the body scan, the key is to invite in the sensations with an attitude of welcome and acceptance. By understanding and implementing these strategies, individuals can take significant steps toward overcoming sensory motor obsessions and reclaiming control over their lives. If you found this information helpful, consider exploring in-depth courses on OCD and health anxiety for more personalized guidance.

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