Some sanity, some "not sanity" for all of us
Learning from extreme cases
And it is not useful to be a victim
What he did
A return to principles and the basics
From the CBT annals!
Belief is the source of the emotion
The solution is always intellect-based
The process is always the same
We control the whole chain if we control any one link
Do you agree?
Further info on Jeff Bell


We are all to some degree sane and to some degree "not sane".  We have not evolved yet to the level of total sanity. 

The reason I bring up the process of "obsessive thought" is that we all engage in it to cause ourselves needless suffering, and we all are somewhere on the continuum of obsessive thought, with no one at the zero point and a number of people toward the upper end of the continuum to where we call it a disorder. 


I think that we can learn with greater clarity if we look at the extreme cases and see what has worked.  The symptoms are clearer and are magnified so that we can see them better, which helps in the solutions on all parts of the continuum.  I think that we can also learn that all thinking is changeable and not "permanent" (though there are some physical, genetic aberrations that are not yet changeable). 

Jeff Bell is an interesting fellow, whom I admire quite a bit.  He didn't accept the "permanence" of his sentence to lifetime suffering from OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder).  Having a chemical/physical imbalance that causes one to have to go back three times in a row to see if the garage door is down, even though the first two times proved it was down would seem to be a great justification for being a victim of the disorder.


However, he didn't accept that.  And he is the proof that virtually all disorders involving fear and worry can be addressed constructively, with happy endings.

My friend Barbara, as is understandable, has been in the mode of believing that her social anxiety leading to hyperventilation and then physical wipeout is a sentence for isolation which in turn means she'll be miserable - this is a "no way out" viewpoint, which is the viewpoint that a victim has.  That view is the opposite of what works - and it is part of my push for her to change the way she sees herself as a victim (and a child) to that of the viewpoint and "role" of a rational nurturing adult.  It is only by adopting the viewpoint that one can exert one's power to change life that one can go forward in life.


Jeff's first book on this clarified the condition, entitled:  Rewind, Replay, Repeat.  That's a perfect title to describe OCD.

His new book (When In Doubt, Make Belief) will help anyone, whether they have OCD or are simply living with uncertainty.

He addresses first the basic philosophical questions that I address on this site:  Choose to see the "universe as friendly", certainly the opposite of living in dread of uncertainty.  Operate from the basis of "possibilities" and believe in your own potential (a stretch when one is discouraged from obsessive thought).

His view called "put commitments ahead of comfort" is the rational adult viewpoint that we recommend.  Immaturity is based on what feels good in the moment and/or escape in the moment without consideration and proper weighing of the long term.

Keeping one's perspective and seeing the big picture is essential so that one doesn't get stuck in the corner by one's negative thoughts and littleness.

His view of "surrender" is not one of giving up, but one of accepting his condition and not resisting it or bemoaning it (these are the source of Suffering).  He has a bit of spirituality thrown in there, but I reinterpret that to "surrendering" and being open to higher thought and the ability and power of the higher brain to do remarkable things. 


As much as we think variations are "different" they also have underlying basics that are often similar in many areas. 

Obsessive thoughts, panic, unhappiness, stress, etc., all have the same basis, so in a sense their "cure" basics are the same.  What is in common is "fear and doubt", which  is, other than actual danger, all "made up" by  the mind and is the result of childish thinking (or primitive thinking or careless thinking, whatever you want to call the opposite of directed, rational thinking). 

Remarkably enough, Jeff turned his life around by deciding he would not live life as a victim of this condition and that he would create something bigger than himself.  He calls that something The Greater Good (benefiting others beside himself) and he commits to causing that greater good and to being of service to others (all the opposite of the viewpoint of victimhood).  While he is being that, there is little room for obsessive self-thoughts.  These led to his OCD recovery.

Basically, he shifter from his emphasis on being "doubt-driven" to being "belief driven". 

He addresses the ongoing problem for OCD people (and anyone suffering from something [which means all of us]):  once effective treatments are offered how do we get people to engage in them?

He doesn't offer easy solutions, just ones that work, with, of course, some effort.
And that is the reality in all cases where we want to deal effectively with any source of suffering.


Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), the most effective therapeutic technique, books and workbooks, he nails the OCD thinking down for what it is, regardless of the chemical nature behind it:

It is due to "black and white" thinking combined with "catastrophic" thinking, which are all in the category of "distorted thinking" that CBT proposes is the cause of all problems.  (Wouldn't it make sense then to stop doing the distorted thinking and to do the opposite, to the best of our ability - and to work on that ability until we are masters of it?!!!!!!)  To solve this one needs to understand the fiction of "Right/Wrong/Good/Bad" and accept that, including being able to live in No-Blame.

He could hide behind and be the victim of his condition, defined as: "a biochemical brain disorder marked by intrusive recurring thoughts and nonsensical rituals aimed at dislodging these thoughts."  

Now, look at that, and you might see it is something we all suffer from, but without the extreme.  And, because we don't bother to think out things, don't we engage in rituals (habitual behavior patterns in this case and repeated actions) that are unhealthy (eating to comfort oneself, anger and blame, TV as a distraction, etc. and etc.).


Since we are not animals, we are not subject to stimulus-response in a set pattern.  Anybody who looks at this scientifically, based on proof, knows that the so-called stimulus is just a neutral event that we then add meaning to, in the form of a belief.
Then the brain matches up that belief (arrangement and connections of neurons in a form of a "recording") with the event and then fires off the emotion that would be appropriate if the belief were true, which it most often is not.

In fact, if we experience a negative emotion, in almost all cases it is because we have inserted a false, unhealthy belief.  The negative emotion is in fact the signal to pay attention to so that one can identify those beliefs that need to be changed.  Surely it would make no sense to leave those beliefs in place, to be repeated over and over again. 

But how many people seem to be willing to do this?  It seems like it is relatively few.


Although people seem to hold onto "emotions" as the driver in life, it is the intellect that can devise the thoughts and beliefs that cause the emotions which then do drive life.  That means that thoughts and beliefs, via a mechanism, drive life.  Which means you are in charge and have no excuse as long as you are "inherently able", which you are.  Once you realize you are in charge and there are no legitimate excuses, you then can create the life you want - and not let obsessive, repeated nonsensical thoughts continue.  You would follow the process for Managing The Thought Process, without fail!

It makes no sense for one to allow fear-based doubt to ruin one's life, since one has control over the beliefs that comprise the irrational thoughts that create the fear!  Part of what we need to do is simply ask the question "am I really in danger?"  So-called "emotional reasoning" is not reasoning at all, but it is one of the modes of distorted thinking.


Obsessions --> Distress (upset) --> Compulsion (to relieve distress) --> Relief

Even in the social anxiety leading to hyperventilation case, the same thing happens.

The brain runs lots of distress messages (obsessively, to protect against the imagined danger). 

Chemical distressers are released into the body (experienced as emotions).  And we also add more distressing thoughts about how terrorizing it is to experience the distressers (this is not helpful!). 

We are compelled to do something to relieve the discomfort.  In the case of the hyperventilation, the body heeds the compulsion and reacts to handle the danger. 
We have no relief because there is no way to act to relieve the danger through an explosion of fight or flight, so it gets worse and we feel like we can't breathe and that we might die (a false belief).  The body goes super hypertense and exhaustion occurs and recovery (as in all stress) is needed.  Then we add to this the thought that it is bad and terrible and that it'll never be cured. 

But all of these beliefs are controllable, though we haven't developed a way to control our cells and overcome the physical reactions directly (though we can indirectly influence them through relaxation and rest plus retraining through things like meditation).  If the beliefs are the cause, regardless of the lack of control over the effect of the emotions once things reach the extreme, then we are in control of the ultimate outcome. 

And since we can change beliefs, we are still in charge of the whole process - plus we need to honor the body's response by accepting it and working with it, rather than bemoaning it. 


All physical outcomes due to beliefs and emotions are avoidable if we stop the chain reaction, if we merely can control one link then the situation cannot continue to progress.  We have the ability to change our thoughts and beliefs and accordingly we can stop the process right at that point. 

A situation occurs.  We don't add a negative threatening belief to it.  The event remains neutral and there is no adverse reaction - there is no continuation along the causal chain.  (As I repeat this over and over in my writings, I feel this conclusion is more of a "duh", a simple, moronically obvious conclusion, yet I see people violating it all the time!)

Whether it's an extreme form of obsessive thought or uncontrolled chains of any sort, they are all the same in principle - and they are all solvable.

You just need to keep going, and use the right techniques and qualified assistance, and you'll get the desired result of eliminating the consequences of activating the whole chain - plus the bonus will be that you'll be able to activate positive chains with very positive consequences.


___ I see that it is all the same underlying process, despite some differing details.
___ All human life has bad days and I accept that. 
___ I see that the key source is controllable and changeable.
___ I see that, therefore, the entire chain leading to suffering is very curable.

(If you don't agree, email me with your reasoning.)

Although the book is on OCD, I recommend that you still read his book When In Doubt, Make Belief, as there are some very good things to learn that apply to all of life and amp up the clarity of why and how to management one's mind and life.


Bell Interview 1Article in Psychology TodayCNNHealth.com on BellCBSVideo.   Google Jeff Bell OCD for others.