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  • 作家相片Clare C. Chan

Regression Therapy Series (15) — Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder


George has been troubled by obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) for 35 years. At the age of 15, he experienced a family upheaval, which forced him to take on immense life stress. In the same year, he developed the troubling symptoms of OCD. George never told anyone, nor did he seek medical help, but this year, due to the worsening of his condition, he decided to seek psychological treatment and arranged a first meeting with me.

George's OCD is a type of mental compulsion, different from the common perceptions of OCD, such as frequent hand-washing, checking, etc. George's OCD takes place entirely in his mind, with no behavioral manifestations, which is why his family never noticed. His condition involves intrusive images that pop up in his mind while he's conscious, depicting his loved ones being severely hurt, causing him great fear and heartache. To combat these intrusive images, George would replace the image of his loved one in his mind with an unknown woman, and then imagine moving this woman to a different space to keep her from harm. This method of combating intrusive thoughts is a compulsive thought process, which is somewhat effective in neutralizing and reducing the fear brought on by the intrusive images. Although this neutralizing method appears to work in alleviating his fear and anxiety temporarily, it only brings short-term peace because in a few minutes, the frightening images would invade his mind again, and he would have to repeat the compulsive thinking to mitigate his fear. Sometimes, he might need to spend one or two hours altering the images in his mind, a process that becomes increasingly painful and difficult. His mood is also severely affected and becomes depressed, feeling a blockage in his mind. At its worst, he might experience intrusive images over 100 times a day. Being constantly engaged in compulsive thinking while awake makes George feel extremely desperate, to the point of believing he has an incurable disease and only death could free him from this OCD.

During several sessions of psychological counseling with George, I explained to him how to deal with the obsessive-compulsive disorder using traditional cognitive-behavioral therapy , teaching him the correct way to confront anxiety . Since the content of George's OCD was not related to any experiences in his current life and seemed to appear out of nowhere, we decided to incorporate regression therapy to tackle the problem at the subconscious level, to expedite the treatment of this mental illness.

In the first session of regression therapy, I guided George to recall the scenes that frightened him. He immediately thought of the severe mental illness he suffers from and was very scared. He also told me for the first time that he is afraid of touching or even swallowing other people's saliva. This fear of others' saliva, which he had never mentioned to me before, is not important in itself, but because it is something that scares him, it can serve as an emotional bridge for the regression therapy. And this bridge was indeed very effective, as it directly connected to the root of his fear: George suddenly felt stiffness throughout his body, even his fingers became rigid, completely unable to move. As I observed him, I saw his fingers curl stiffly, like claws. He struggled to open his hands, but all I could see was his fingers and palms trembling, yet he was completely unable to spread his fingers. He said he felt a numbing sensation spreading upwards to his chest, and then to his tongue and face. It was evident that he was unable to move his tongue flexibly, and his speech became slurred. Then, he felt his head start to numb, and his brain began to stiffen, leaving the upper half of his body paralyzed, while his lower body could still move flexibly. The whole process was quite frightening; he said he was afraid that he would remain like this forever, which shows how terrified he was and how real this bodily reaction was.

To be honest, such a strong physical reaction from George is quite rare, and it also startled me. Up to this point, George and I still did not know which particular memory he had returned to that was so frightening. Therefore, I continued to guide him to confront and release his fears. After some time of release, George gradually realized that he had gone back to a previous life, lying in a somewhat dark place, with everything in front of him tinted red, seeing a sunset at dusk. Only after several experiences did he vaguely see a snake nearby. I finally understood that George's body was reliving the process of dying from a venomous snake bite from a past life!

However, it's reassuring to know that regression therapy is a very safe treatment method, because even if we go to such a frightening scene, these are just our memories, and in reality, we are in a very safe therapy room. Each time we enter our subconscious and experience these intense emotions during regression therapy, we are releasing the emotions trapped in the subconscious. Each release helps to lessen the impact of these trapped emotions on us, reducing the trapped emotions further.

During the release process, George gradually regained control of his body and its mobility. We even took a break in the middle. During the break, George told me that the experience was incredibly intense, and there was a moment he thought he would remain that state for the rest of his life, but he recounted these events in a relaxed tone. After the break, I guided him back into the memory of dying from the snake venom in his past life. Although the physical sensations still persisted, they were significantly diminished. Finally, we employed some hypnotherapy techniques, allowing George to regain strength in his body within this memory, altering the paralyzing and stiff sensations, and thoroughly healing the fear emotions stored in his body.

It was only when I was revising George's treatment notes that I realized that this past life experience of dying from a snake bite was closely related to his obsessive-compulsive fear. He has an OCD fear of ingesting someone else's saliva. We connected this fear to the root cause of the past life experience during the session: the body dying from the snake bite as it was poisoned by the snake's saliva (venom). No wonder he was so afraid of other people's saliva! It was only after the first regression therapy session that George told me that he had always been afraid of snakes. He thought that fearing snakes was quite normal, not realizing it stemmed from a past life.

After two regression therapy sessions to completely resolve the fear of dying from a snake bite, in the third session, we decided to directly address his core obsessive-compulsive fear – the intrusive thoughts and fear of his loved ones being harmed. So, I had George visualize his greatest fear in his mind, trying to link this fear to its root. However, George was utterly terrified of this image, and he could only let this image appear in his mind for a second before he became so distressed that he started sweating, his face turned red, his expression twisted, and his body tensed, unable to move. He then directly went into his usual neutralization segment, altering the fearful image into a safe one. His consciousness would desperately try to avoid the appearance of this image, including entering a state of avoidance (neutralizing the fear image) during the therapy process. Therefore, I used another hypnotherapy method to allow George to enter the root of his OCD in a gentler way. George immediately connected to an ancient scene, approximately two hundred years ago in China. He saw himself wearing traditional Tang clothes, exploring in a town with city walls. Perhaps because his fear was so intense and the habit of neutralization so strong, it took us a total of four regression therapy sessions to address this past life. Below is the integration of notes from reviewing these four regression therapy sessions:

George traveled back to China, two to three hundred years ago, dressed in traditional Tang attire with black cloth shoes, walking through a town. The scene shifted, and he found himself at an inn where he encountered many menacing-looking figures from the jianghu (martial world) drinking and dining. His mood suddenly became heavy, and then he realized that these people were attacking him. From my perspective, it seemed like many details were being skipped over, so I guided George to revisit the past repeatedly, to fully recall the event. Gradually, George felt an increasing heaviness in his heart, along with a strong desire for revenge. He found himself wielding two axes, slashing at the fierce people who were also striking back at him. Then his subconscious led us back to an earlier time before the revengeful fight, to him descending the stairs of the inn, where he saw a woman being surrounded by more than twenty vicious individuals. He knew that these people were about to seriously harm the woman. Suddenly, George became very anxious, he was so afraid to witness the scene of the woman being harmed that he instinctively changed the image, immediately leading the woman away from the scene. This was clearly another attempt of neutralization and avoidance. I tried various methods to encourage him to face the fear of that moment, but the power of avoidance was just too strong. Each time I asked George to re-experience that segment, he would inadvertently dodge the crucial point, for instance, by going to the scene before the woman was harmed, or to the scene after she had been harmed (where the woman was alone), and then he would rescue her.

This avoidance behavior reflected the enormous fear inherent in OCD, which persisted even under hypnosis. Seeing George exhausted after each regression therapy session, I truly admired his courage and persistence in undergoing the treatment.

Eventually, George gathered the courage, and with my guidance, allowed himself to witness the scene of the woman being severely injured for 1 second. In subsequent explorations, we discovered that in this past life, George appeared to be acquainted with the woman, and they seemed to be in a romantic relationship. He experienced extreme guilt and pain in that past life for not being able to protect her. Although he avenged her, carving a bloody path, he was killed by the authorities after leaving the inn. For him, being killed was not painful; it felt more like a release. However, he departed from that life with intense pain and guilt, which affected his current life and contributed to his OCD.

George's OCD symptoms gradually decreased after each regression therapy session, even though there were times when there was no improvement, but ultimately the symptoms significantly reduced. Two weeks after completing six sessions of regression therapy, I called to follow up on George's condition. He said he was no longer troubled, and the intrusive images and thoughts associated with his OCD had greatly diminished. From an initial severity of nearly 9 out of 10, it had dropped to 0.5 to 1. He shared that he was no longer afraid of these OCD images and could easily ignore them. George mentioned that at the beginning of seeking treatment, he felt that OCD was like cancer among psychological illnesses, but after treatment, he believed that the disorder was completely curable and not to be feared.

Here, I also want to express my gratitude to George for his perseverance and trust, which allowed us to use regression therapy to thoroughly heal his OCD. Sometimes I encounter clients who try regression therapy but give up after 1 or 2 sessions if they don't see immediate effects. To me, this is unfortunate, as the severity of everyone's issues varies, and the process and speed of recovery are different. Sometimes a single session of regression therapy can have a great effect, but other times it may take several sessions before seeing results. For example, if someone's emotional distress has persisted for over 10 years, how could one expect 1 or 2 sessions of regression therapy to resolve a decade's worth of problems? In my next article, I will share a case where 9 sessions of regression therapy were conducted to help everyone understand the complexity of regression therapy better.

The following is the sharing from George:

"Hi Clare, thank you so much for accompanying me on my journey of therapy. I am now feeling much, much better. I remember during my most difficult times when I wanted to talk to you, you would take time out of your busy schedule to have a chat with me. After talking with you, my emotions stabilized. In your studio, I consider you a good friend, you are truly a kind person, and I am beyond grateful!!"

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