How to deal with Real Tragedies

Today I have the privilege of featuring Dr. James Claiborn.  Dr. Claiborn is one of the foremost experts on OCD.  He has a practice in Maine and has helped countless people with OCD.  He is a regualr contributor to a yahoo group on OCD.  He takes time out of his day to help us with OCD.  I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Claiborn a few years ago in Washington D.C. at the IOCDF conference.

Dr. Claiborn can be reached at the following website

The article is from Dr. Claiborn on dealing with tragic events.  I think it is a great  article on not just how people with OCD can deal with tragic events, but how everyone can deal with tragic events.  Thank you Dr. Claiborn for this article.  It has and will help many people.

How to deal with Real Tragedies

Dr. James Claiborn Ph.D ABPP ACT

When tragic events and horrible things happen people tend to have intrusive thoughts about them. This is true for people who have OCD and everyone else. I expect there are millions of people who are bothered by thoughts about the horrible events in the school in Connecticut. 
Sometimes in reaction to this kind of event people may engage in efforts to understand it, try to stop from thinking about it, or perhaps make some effort to make things better in some way such as trying to comfort those most affected or change something so that it is less likely to happen again. 

All of these are understandable but may have the potential to become a problem if (like anything else) they are over done. Reading about the tragedy is an overt act, most often reflecting an effort to make an event understandable. The sense that we understand something tends to reduce anxiety. I don’t have OCD but I have found myself reading about the events surrounding the school shooting, talking about related issues and thinking about it. The frequency of any of these behaviors follows a natural course and decreases over time. Trying not to think about something is one of the best ways I know to insure you will think about it a lot.

For what it’s worth none of these efforts is obsessive. You can’t read obsessively, the phrase does not make sense. You can read compulsively. 

In the final analysis if you think there is something you can do to make the world a better place, then put some effort into that. As far as understanding things, I think you are better off accepting that some things just don’t make sense.

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