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Is philosophical OCD a real thing?

M

marloo

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So for a while now, four or so years to be exact, I have experienced anxiety relating to philosophical issues. It started when I thought of solipsism when I was 14 years old (I'm 18 now) and since then I've thought about that and other issues. For example, at one point I was worried about the idea that when you sleep, you die (because of cessation of consciousness). Then, for a year or so, maybe less, I was anxious about the idea of being frozen in one moment of time. I got that idea from the concept of time loops, and realized that such a loop could be frozen in a single instant of time, and you really don't know for certain that the past actually happened. At about the same time I started thinking of time in instants, and realized the world may actually not be stable, as in instants of time could be scrambled up and I could for instance, go to sleep and wake up as a completely different person with a different person's memories, etc.
Normally, these thoughts and concerns don't affect my daily life but they're still nagging (and at times, almost panic inducing, though that doesn't usually happen anymore). Typically, I worry about one idea for a few months up to a year, then decide the idea is silly and come up with something new soon afterward. So I asked a few other people who had similar anxiety disorders and they told me it is an example of philosophical OCD (I myself have been diagnosed with OCD when I was much younger).
Is philosophical OCD a real thing? And is it possible to cure/overcome it? It's really annoying to worry about things like the world not existing and other seemingly ridiculous things like that. Although for the past few months, I've stopped worrying about it nearly as much and now mostly worry about the fact that I worry about that shit in the first place, if that makes sense. I guess I just want to be normal and live a normal life, which I guess I do apart from these stupid thoughts.
Thanks.
 

cpuusage

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i think literally anything can be pathologised (which is the current trend/fashion) give it a label & then administer some drugs.

i also think everything can be seen & approached from other non-pathological understandings & perspectives.

i don't personally think being a bit worried about some basic philosophy 101 concepts is a 'mental illness', but that's me. If it's such a concern then go see your GP.
 
Jaminacaranda

Jaminacaranda

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You make perfect sense to me. However, I'm possibly the worst person to respond to you, because I think that what you have experienced is entirely normal. Not the panic attacks though, those are scary. I did a degree in Philosophy (many years ago) and we were encouraged to consider the 'existential' problems you describe. My advice would be, embrace your thoughts as valuable and in no way a sign of dysfunction. Write them down in a journal for future reference - but yes, don't become so caught up with them that you neglect your everyday life and other people who are important to you. If you begin to notice yourself doing that, it is time to seek help or at least express your worries to another trusted adult.
 
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marloo

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I don't know.
It just feels sort of scary sometimes that I have spent so much time worrying about and even getting used to ideas such as being the only conscious being in existence, or being frozen in time or whatever. Obviously I live my life assuming all of that is false but I still considered those things very real possibilities (and still do to an extent).
 

cpuusage

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I don't know.
It just feels sort of scary sometimes that I have spent so much time worrying about and even getting used to ideas such as being the only conscious being in existence, or being frozen in time or whatever. Obviously I live my life assuming all of that is false but I still considered those things very real possibilities (and still do to an extent).
It can help to delve deeper into it all - find the arguments & reasoning that contest such theories.
 
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marloo

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I did come up with multiple arguments against these ideas.
Of course these arguments weren't flawless but they certainly helped.
I also talked to my parents about my worries. I guess they think I'm going through a phase which might be true, but I've been worried about these things for the past 4 years or so as well.
 

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I did come up with multiple arguments against these ideas.
Of course these arguments weren't flawless but they certainly helped.
I also talked to my parents about my worries. I guess they think I'm going through a phase which might be true, but I've been worried about these things for the past 4 years or so as well.
Very different life, circumstances & experiences, but i have found it a help to go into & work through things, with help from people that have some understanding - that can potentially be hard to find.

In the Grand scheme of things, these don't seem like severely disturbed thoughts/thinking. It's a bit immature & silly, with respect. What are the options - go to the GP & get some drugs? It's a case of dealing with it. Go read some Jean-Paul Sartre.
 
Jaminacaranda

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Very different life, circumstances & experiences, but i have found it a help to go into & work through things, with help from people that have some understanding - that can potentially be hard to find.

In the Grand scheme of things, these don't seem like severely disturbed thoughts/thinking. It's a bit immature & silly, with respect. What are the options - go to the GP & get some drugs? It's a case of dealing with it. Go read some Jean-Paul Sartre.
Hmmm not so sure about the Jean-Paul Sartre CPU - at Marloo's age I found his writing quite disturbing!
 
B

blythegirl

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I can understand this- I had a similar experience when I read Sartre for the first time. I guess it shook my view of the world *so* much that I felt uncomfortable and unstable for quite a while after. That, and I'd been brought up in a religious family since a child. I remember at 12 years old questioning the concept of God/Heaven etc. and feeling incredibly guilty for weeks on end (and ashamed to even mention it to my friends at Catholic school).

I suppose any thoughts or experiences or views that shatter or challenge your own can result in a feeling of instability or panic.
 
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marloo

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I dunno.
another thing I have is around a year ago for a period of a couple months I had these intense...feelings of certain doom/being trapped and was worried that these feelings actually mean that something horrible would happen to me, such as being eternally tortured. I know the idea of eternal torture is impractical and unrealistic, especially if you are agnostic like me, but it's theoretically possible and I considered things like that in terms of their theoretical possibility rather than realism. For a while I even hoped that my memories of these feelings were false and they didn't actually happen. Obviously, I continued living under the assumption that all that was bullshit. I just feel like I should have realized earlier that all this philosophy stuff was making me insane.
 
A

anatta

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Of course it can be. Many people with philosophical OCD have severe impairment and distress, including suicidal thoughts. Most have had other, classic OCD themes like contamination, harm, blasphemy and magical thinking before or after their philosophical themes, so they are definitely people who have OCD and there is no reason to suppose that the intense anxiety leading to compulsions to ruminate, research and seek reassurance from others is any different from those same behaviours in other OCD themes.

I am a highly philosophical person and my OCD has never latched on to (existential) philosophical questions, because they don't frighten me. (Arguably, some of my obsessions can be categorised as philosophical in nature, but they're not the kind of questions you mention or which are normally labelled as philosophical OCD.) I actually love the idea that our lives here aren't real as it would mean that my personal OCD fears are unwarranted, and I don't care at all that there's no such thing as free will, or separate selves as they're ordinarily perceived. Philosophical thought should be fascinating, not disturbing. It can be disturbing in a transitory way without it being OCD, but if you become highly anxious and can't stop thinking about anything, it's a problem.
 
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cpuusage

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Why not accept that the brain can have pathological states just like any other organ? Why always engage in special pleading for this one organ, and make arguments that we never would for any other organ? When any other organ acts in a way that is impairing and distressing, we have no hesitation calling it pathological.
i think the debate is more to the fact in what ways is it pathological & what are the best approaches of resolving/treating the issue.

The fact is that within 'functional mental health conditions' there are no physical tests & there is no known aetiology. The consensus/mainstream/orthodox view is that the primary aetiology is physiological (biologic) - But this is based largely on certain assumptions, especially concerning the nature of the self (i.e. that we're separate blobs of meat in a dead Universe).

i think there is varying degrees of stuff going on at physiological levels - i also personally think there is a lot more to it all - across psychological, social & transpersonal/spiritual levels.

A lot i think as to how these things are understood is largely based on world view/reality paradigm. A good example is in regarding the field/nature/research of consciousness. As one example - i think it's pretty well established that there is a non-local element to consciousness - But that doesn't fit with 'scientific' materialism/scientism & assumption that the brain creates consciousness/matter is primary - reductionism/determinism.

Some would say it's established that light & consciousness is primary (not matter).

At a basic level the brain is more electromagnetic than chemical anyway. & it's not established if it's a problem with 'hardware, software or both' - &/or other areas?

The comparison with short sight is that mental health covers a vastly more complex & largely unknown area. A lot of assumptions can be made about mental/emotional health - But largely all of it is assumptions.
 
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cpuusage

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I dunno.
another thing I have is around a year ago for a period of a couple months I had these intense...feelings of certain doom/being trapped and was worried that these feelings actually mean that something horrible would happen to me, such as being eternally tortured. I know the idea of eternal torture is impractical and unrealistic, especially if you are agnostic like me, but it's theoretically possible and I considered things like that in terms of their theoretical possibility rather than realism. For a while I even hoped that my memories of these feelings were false and they didn't actually happen. Obviously, I continued living under the assumption that all that was bullshit. I just feel like I should have realized earlier that all this philosophy stuff was making me insane.
A lot of writings within religions (& some spirituality) on Hellish realms - makes sense to me from the perspective of lower astral levels - but i wouldn't consider any state/realm permanent. A lot of the use of Hell in the Abrahamic faiths has been used as a control system/mechanism imo.

Solution imo is in the areas of self realisation.

Good idea to be as grounded as we can, & i'd also pay heed to the disclaimer on this forum & seek professional medical advice if you feel this is a major/serious issue -

The messages on this forum and any links to external websites posted within the forum express the views of the respective authors. They do not necessarily represent the views of the administrators, moderators or any other forum member. Any advice posted here is for support purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for advice by a qualified professional.
 
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mark payne

mark payne

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While reading your post i swear in a moment i felt it's me that wrote all that.....my whole life changed cause of a philosophy book it caused me panic attacks, sadness,anexiety,i wish if i can back in time while i was in the library and choose an other book maybe a silly stupid magazine or a news paper but not that...sometimes one idea come to your mind just like that can change all your life...especially the ones about (who we are) ( what's that world and what we doing here?) (is all that even real or we just dreaming cause when we dream we dont know we r dreaming so maybe all this life is just a dream and nothing is real but we can't relize that cause we are in it)....the feeling get worst everyday i start to worry what if i wake up someday as an other person( not phisycally) i mean what if all ur beliefs/ideas/things you love ....you wake up someday and you dont believe in it no more and you dont love it no more, isn't that make from you an other person?!! and the worst part is, who can prove that it won't happen!! to be honest this is so painful and i completly feel you and how u feel cause as i said one book broke my life, it completly broke it, in the end and trust me in the end we have to keep faith and trust in god that he will make everything ok again someday and stop all that cause trust me thinking more it just make it worst...you have to learn how to live we this feeling also to ignore it.. (btw sorry for my bad english i'm french)
 

cpuusage

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...if you become highly anxious and can't stop thinking about anything, it's a problem.
What if the reason is because of accumulated life trauma, losses & adverse circumstances/experiences? Does that mean it's primarily a problem with the brain? What about cases of severe abuse? Is the primary issue the persons brain malfunctioning that has been abused?
 
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