October 16, 2011

OCD and "The Backdoor Spike"

I’ve commented about this before, but I find it quite amazing that OCD is so similar from person to person and really, the content of the thought is irrelevant.  This realization came to me from reading other OCD sufferers blogs, and belonging to the on-line Yahoo Support Boards.   However, I do think that those of us with violent and sexual obsessions have one additional disadvantage which I can’t really sum up into one word or sentence.  But it has to do with “desire” and “denial”, and this relates to The Backdoor Spike. 

The Backdoor Spike essentially relates to those of us who have been “reassured” by the fact that we don’t enjoy or are disgusted with our obsessions.  Of course, the idea of ERP is to become habituated to our obsessions so that the thoughts no longer bother us.  So, we do ERP, and start to become habituated to our bothersome thoughts and then suddenly OCD starts telling us that there must be something wrong PRECISELY because we are no longer upset with our thoughts.  For someone with fear of contaminating others with germs, I don’t think the Backdoor Spike is really an issue......is it? 

For example – I’ve been doing ERP and have habituated to a lot of the work that I have done.  I have been watching short music videos of lesbians together, kissing and having wonderful, fantasy relationships.  Watching this stuff no longer really bothers me.  (My therapist said that he thought the actual act of becoming disgusted by watching it was actually a compulsion by the way.) But OCD won't let me off the hook.  It has now started with:  “This doesn’t bother you anymore.  Does this mean that you are in the process of coming out of the closet?  Maybe you’re starting to accept who you really are.  Are you sure you don’t actually enjoy watching these videos?” It is very frustrating and discouraging. 

The other day, after reading another blogger’s post I became inspired about how she actually attacks her OCD with tenacity and even continues to PLAN exposures into her life on a daily basis.  This, to me is amazing – and – I think how she maintains recovery from OCD.  I started feeling more determined and thought to myself: “Screw this.  I’m going to attack this OCD and face this stuff.”  To which my OCD said: “Hmmmm....you’re actually planning exposures.  Actually looking forward to doing ERP.  Are you sure this isn’t just you finding a reason to expose yourself to lesbian content?  Maybe you really WANT to do this stuff because deep down inside you’re gay and you’re just slowly realizing it. 

I can’t win. 

I just can’t win.  Does a hand washer get these backdoor spikes?  And if he/she does, what form do they take?  Hmmm....you’re looking forward to giving germs to everyone – you must be some kind of evil person?  I don’t know.  I suppose it doesn’t matter – my theme is my theme and feeling sorry for myself isn’t going to change anything.  But it really, really, really frustrates me.  I hate OCD. 

Another example:  a few days ago I was thinking about how I look forward to a day when I didn’t isolate myself from relationships because of fear that new female friends might be gay, or that becoming close to a woman will cause me to spike and wonder if I’m falling in love with her and coming out of the closet.  My goal is really to be able to have friends of all kinds, no matter what their sexual orientation because that is what truly fits with my values.  I was thinking to myself that I look forward to  a day when I’m not afraid to become friends with whomever I want to become friends with, lesbian or not.  Of course my OCD jumped in and said: “Aha!  Are you sure it’s not that you can’t wait for a day when you can become friends with lesbians?  When you can truly be yourself and come out of the closet? 

OCD is relentless.  It is beating me up.  No matter what I think, it finds a way of turning it around and shocking me into abiding with its rules.  I long for freedom. 


  1. I do think you're right. I don't think this sort of thing happens with germy OCD; it hasn't to me anyway.

    It sucks, though and I'm sorry you have to deal with it.

    Based on what you've said in your blog, and how you say it, I've thought that we would be friends if we lived close by. I have a number of lesbian friends. Hmm, maybe that's an exposure for you. ;)

  2. Ahem. Yes - in fact is IS an exposure! My anxiety ramped up! Thanks for that. :o)
    Yes I think we could be friends too if we lived closer. Maybe we can meet at an OCD conference or something. :o)

  3. Karin says:

    Oh, i never thot of that! That would be horrid.
    Hugs, time for a break. Breathe! (and no, i'm not gay altho i did have thots years ago that i must be gay because i had looked at a girl long enuf for my head to notice and say that i must be.) Have you tried to deflect it by saying "so what if i am?" or some such phrase to OCD and seeing where that takes you. Agreeing with ocd may take the wind out of its sails.

    Hope tomorrow is a better day for you.

  4. Wow. Your post has given me insight as to how OCD goes after you in every way possible....I am sorry you are having such a hard time now, but know there are better days ahead.

  5. Germs aren't my biggest problem, but I do occasionally - well, a little more than occasionally - start washing more. What if I'm becoming careless and somebody get's sick and it's my fault? But that's more or less the orriginal obsession, so I don't know if it would count as a back door spike.

    Going off the last medication, my worst OCD issue (a harm issue) is coming back, but so far, I can still remember that it is a distortion; if I was on the right meds, it wouldn't be giving me such a problem.

  6. I can't speak for other people with contamination issues, but I DEFINITELY experience "back door" spikes pretty much all the time. I think anyone with OCD can, though I guess some are more susceptible to it than others. Mine tend to come in the form of: "Oh, you like that your therapist told you to do that exposure, don't you? See, you like being dirty! You really are a dirty, lazy person and are just looking for the next excuse to be even lazier and dirtier than you already are!" or "See! You're getting used to feeling dirty too easily. You must not have had OCD in the first place. You've been making it all up. You're a fraud."

    OCD is endlessly adaptable. I know that the back door spike is often used in reference to violent or sexual obsessions, but really I think it could apply to any form of obsession!

  7. I think "backdoor spike" is actually ocd's "business as usual"--disguising itself as being reasonable to the nth degree. It sucks how sneaky ocd can be, but it's still made of the same stuff whether backdoor or not.

  8. Hi Everyone - thanks again for your support. I'm on the marathon of "hell" here with my Mom. I like everyone's comments and insight. Expwoman - great point - sometimes it's so exhausting and hard to recognize!! Damn OCD. Fellow - thanks for the insight into other obsessions too. Makes me feel like there's hope - that my theme isn't the "impossible one to help" - I guess that's just OCD talking too.

  9. I know I had lots of bad themes and when I didn't worry about them or care I thought that somehow I must be good with it. That it will finally happen. It will get me this time. It is now going to happen because if it wasn't I'd be worried about it.

    I couldn't just be glad I wasn't spiking. I felt some moment of comfort when my hatred of the thoughts returned. Vicious cycle.

    That's why when everyone says, "Accept the thoughts," I don't understand. Thanks for your article.

  10. My ocd theme currently is ROCD. I suffered from HOCD a few years ago but totally got over it by just basically accepting that its okay to get turned on by the same sex sometimes! I used to (and sometimes still do) get intrusive thoughts saying I don't love my boyfriend and I always questioned my love for him. I was constantly monitoring my feelings seeing how much love I felt for him. Always looking to see if I felt anything when I looked at him or kissed him etc. I have been doing better now. I accept and expect intrusive thoughts and anxiety feelings whenever I am with him/talk to him and they barely show up anymore!

    Last night I had a back door spike. I had some of the usual what if questions pop into my mind and noticed how I didn't get anxious. I then questioned whether these were my true feelings all along and not OCD after all! My anxiety got up to be about a 5 so it was a little difficult for me to calm down. Now realizing that my experience last night was a back door spike made me feel more relieved and to know its only a back door spike for next time I start to question things again!

    ps. I went on the birth control Nuva Ring and that caused my anxiety to become exremely sever and comming off it was even worse and that is how I developed this ROCD. The OCD was trying to tell me it wasn't my BC that made me feel this way and those were my true feelings. Once again OCD tricked me but it won't trick me again!!!