Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Getting Rid of an Obsession

An excellent primer on stopping an obsessive thought is posted on Beliefnet, which is a great place to explore/talk about any sort of spiritual belief or doubt.

The ideas in the piece are familiar to me--but then I'm quite a student of obsessions and the stoppage of them. However, I don't recall seeing them so well condensed and assembled, also with pictures for each that are oddly persuasive.

Obsession can get in the way of boldness or of any movement at all.

Once I went to a party that reminded me of this. It was a birthday party held in a warehouse-like space that was already filled with an art piece. The art was made up of the old narrow single beds from a state mental hospital. They were empty and made up with white sheets, and all the air between and above them was thickly cobwebbed with black string. A terrific three-dimensional visual of what obsession feels like -- one aspect of it, anyway.

So the guests were given scissors and we cut down the net of obsessions. I have somewhere a picture of myself doing that. It was satisfying to do, and useful to remember: to do what's necessary to cut through that sticky stuff.

Added note: some obsessions, like a romantic yearning, we don't always want to give up hope on. Once when I was single I had one of those hanging on too long. My therapist said, "Cut it off." By which he meant giving up every hope or ambition. I said, "That's hard." He said, "As hard as my cutting off my own hand." I have to say, though, it worked, and was a lot less painful in the long run. It was time.

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K.B. said...

It's really ironic you just posted this!

I was literally just thinking about how obsessed so many people on both ends of the voting spectrum had become with the political process. I was reading Politico's websites for the first time and not enjoying it very much because of the nasty tenor of the comments left by people, mainly on the right, some on the left. They just can't seem to let any of it go... The even more ironic thing was that I was imagining it much like a very dark, sticky spider's web of an obsession...

And earlier today I was talking with a friend who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder II last year. He was describing how the shock and the newness and a strange sense of almost exaltation has finally started wearing off that he'd felt at his diagnosis, and now he's trying to figure out how to actually live in his actual reality with his actual loved ones, not-so-loved ones, and strangers, knowing what he now knows about himself.

His description of how he has to double and triple and quadruple think almost everything he does and feels sounds a lot like the art installation you cut through, trapped inside all of these limitations, guidewires, and tripcords that he didn't realize were there all along.

The hard part for him, of course, is knowing which strings he can afford to cut and which he must leave in place...

Peggy Payne said...

I don't envy him. That's a really tough one.

K.B. said...

I'm going to send him your link -- I don't know if his medical team have gone over this kind of thing with him or not (always difficult for me to guess at the differences between UK and US medical systems), but it might help...can't hurt, right?