I understand exactly what you are talking about. OCD thoughts or obsessions have some peculiar power to them. Something “sticks” about them. I call them Super-thoughts and believe that they are much more powerful than regular thoughts. They seem to have some odd “pull” to them that seems to almost force you to think about them.
I have had clients who have told me that they feel that they have to think these thoughts. Unfortunately, I felt that way somewhat myself at one point. Keep in mind that OCD’ers often feel that they “have” to do all sorts of things. This is the compulsive nature of the illness, but the broken record nature of the obsessions also looks compulsive or habitual. If OCD is a disease of doubting, as the French say, it is also a disease of repetition.
To determine if something is an obsession or not, the great psychiatrist George Winokur told his med school students, “Look at how hard the patient resists the thought. The harder they resist and fight the thought, the more likely it is to be an obsession.”
I will take it even further. “If you try to stop it, it’s an obsession.” That’s not literally true, but it’s pretty much true.
The thoughts also become your friend in a sense because they are with you most of the time. In counseling, I sometimes tell my clients to think of the thoughts as your best friend. After all, they are always with you, and they will never leave you, right? Just like your best friend.
The thoughts also seem to be “alive” in a sense, and it seems like they do not want to die.
Before I realized I had OCD, I just thought I was going insane in my head. For some reason, this was projected out at the world, and everyone seemed to think there was something wrong with me.
The OCD had set up bizarre rules that I had to live my life by, mostly designed to make my life as miserable as possible. I was terrified to break the rules. Finally I had had it with these stupid and frankly masochistic rules, that I started to stand up and fight them. I remember every time I did that, the OCD would stand up and fight and “try to stay alive.” Finally, I would beat the OCD and the the OCD would back down, cower, and say, “Ok, you win.” But then it would come up with a new rule that was often not quite as bad as the previous rule.
In my opinion, it is almost as if these thoughts are living beings. Living beings do not wish to die, so neither do these thoughts.
This ties in with the bizarre nature of the illness where the sufferer himself thinks the thoughts are stupid or absurd, but they still can’t stop thinking them.
Many times I have heard, “Why in the Hell am I even thinking about this?…This is something I would like to think of as infrequently as possible, or never if I could…Of all the thoughts I could think, this is the worst one of them all…Please give me a new thought to think, OCD!”
So the person feels that the thoughts are preposterous, idiotic, and senseless, nevertheless the thoughts have this bizarre pull or stickiness to them as if they are almost demanding that you think about them.
People get so used to their obsessions because they think them all the time that some OCD’ers say, “There is a part of me that wants to stay ill for some reason…I’m afraid to kill the thoughts for some reason…as much as I hate them, the thoughts seem like my friend, and it feels sad to kill them.”
Now why obsessions have this bizarre stickiness, power, or pull to them, I still have no idea. I can’t even come up with a theory. But it’s definitely a part of this very strange illness.