Doubt is a common emotion in humans. We all have doubts, but it can also be a symptom of a mental disorder called OCD. But not all common doubts refer to the mental disorder. Doubts can be usual, or they can be related to OCD. In today’s section, we will talk about how we can differ usual doubts from pathological doubts.
OCD of Compulsive Checking:
Doubts are related to OCD of compulsive checking. In this disorder, the patient checks things multiple times. These checkings are future-orientated meaning they are related to a thought of something harmful happening in future even if there is a significantly less probability.
The patient does this to ensure the safety of his/her beloved ones, animals, things and money or to avoid criticism and guilt. Sooner or later, they become a part of their life, and these doubts create anxiety in their life.
According to the definition, an inference about a possible state of affair, in reality, is called doubt. It means thinking of some possibilities that can occur due to real things. Pathological doubts are unwanted and distressing doubts that come repetitively and create anxiety.
These doubts are more irrational and even absurd when looked at by an average person. Pathological doubts are related to unique content and imaginary situations that have significantly less or no probability of happening.
For example, there may be a doubt that “Did I leave the dryer door open so the cat could jump in and die if the dryer mysteriously started to spin on its own?”.
For example, the person with OCD might have the doubt “Am I using the right side of my body too much?,” whereas a non-OCD person completing a long multiple-choice exam might think, “Did I leave any questions blank?”
Difference between normal doubt and pathological doubt can be explained by these means:
Faulty reasons characterise pathological doubts. They don’t have a real and robust reason because they are based on hypothetical possibilities rather than actual data. So the person who has pathological doubts has no reason to doubt, but they make wrong reasons to doubt. There is a distrust of sensory information in favour of an imagined possibility. The pathological doubt grows in intensity as the person focuses on this imagined possibility, confusing an imagined possibility as if it were reality.
For Example, a person suffering might think he can be caught for the thievery because he was there when it happened. There is no reason for this because being there doesn’t mean he has done it.
Low memory confidence:
Pathological doubts have low memory confidence. This means that they don’t trust what they remember. That’s why they used to check their action again and again. Others have found that individuals with OCD also have reduced confidence in attention because Checking has a deleterious impact. Considerable research has focused on the processes responsible for this effect, but low memory confidence will intensify doubt in prior actions. Low memory confidence is the prime reason that boosts pathological doubts.
For example, the person has a memory that he has locked the door but doesn’t believe in his memory, and he has to call his neighbour to confirm it.
Feeling of knowing:
The person has a feeling of knowing but not remembering. In this condition, the person knows that he has done the work, but as I stated above he has not enough trust in his memory. So he has to check that he has done the job correctly. Pathological doubts prevent the person from seeing the person, the reality of the world bad his mind and takes him in an imaginary state. In this state, the person sees himself standing just before doing the work, but he can’t remember if he had completed the job or not.
For example: The person in the train thinks that she hasn’t brought a toothbrush with her. She tries to remember, but she can only think that she had it in her hands. And she feels that she has not placed it in her bag. But there is no chance if she had it in her hands and she hasn’t put it in the bag. But she couldn’t convince herself so she had to open her bag and ensure that she had brought it with her. After some time, the same feeling came for the powerbank and the process repeated.
Intolerance of certainty:
People with pathological doubts demand a higher level of certainty but infect they can’t achieve. Even if they have a slight uncertainty, they can’t control and have to check and ensure. For them, even a minuscule amount of uncertainty is intolerable. They have to ensure that even after getting a slight ray of uncertainty.
For example: if asked whether you are certain that you completely turned off a water faucet before leaving for work, you might be 97% certain and able to accept the other 3% of uncertainty. The individual with pathological doubt cannot accept 97% certainty but strives for absolute certainty. This drive for total certainty forces the doubter to check or to excessively seeking reassurance that the water faucet is completely off because even a minuscule amount of uncertainty is intolerable.
Written by Shyam Sunder