Compulsions Are Apologies For Crimes We Haven’t Committed

by Matt B. on January 22, 2015

OCD manifests in a million weird ways – including the tendency to apologize, ad nauseum, for things that never happened. And at a deeper level, that’s what OCD is: an endless apology to myself for being who I am.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Sean January 22, 2015 at 6:48 am

Hey Matt. I just got done in the car listening to your podcast. You explained things perfectly man. I just wanted to share another thought that came to me as I was listening. I hope this is not to personal, but I do what they call manscape (legs, chest hair, arms). I am a pretty hairy dude. There are many reasons why. First being that I feel that I am unattractive to people, most importantly to my wife. It is most definitely a compulsion because my body hair has to be a certain length, the same goes for my beard. It is a constant area for OCD to manifest. I had not manscaped in awhile (been fighting it), but this weekend I took an hour and did. Well, there were many feelings about it. FIrst, being that when I perform this compulsion I feel a great sense of relief. The best way to explain it is that I feel like I am taking control of my life in a sense, even if it is just manscaping. I also feel like hey this manscaping is going to make me a new man, kind of thing-start over-get out in the world. New Sean. What soon happens though is I feel a tremendous sense of guilt that I gave into the compulsion and then the pain comes. Then I start to obsess about the bathroom-hair everywhere; hair in the bathroom that I will never be able to vaccum up; did a track hair all over the house. It is a nightmare. I usually end up vacuuming longer than it took to manscape. Sorry, but here comes the apology part. I then went to my wife and began apologizing profusely about what I had done. I was sorry for taking this time and not spending it with her and my daughter. Even though my wife had no problem-I could not stop apologizing and the guilt was overwhelming. I really thought your tyrannical regime comment was spot on. It made me laugh, not because of it as a joke, but because of all the truth in that reference. Hope this wasn’t too personal, but I thought it spoke to your thoughts.

Matt Bieber January 23, 2015 at 6:11 pm

Never too personal, man. This is so painfully familiar to read. I gotta ask (and we can talk about this over email if you’d prefer): do you have exposure exercises that you can work with around the compulsion to apologize?

Sossity November 22, 2015 at 9:34 am

I realize that this is an older message but my 9yr old daughter has been diagnosed as OCD and this has happened QUICKLY two months ago would have had NO idea that this was about to happen. One of the things that we are struggling with is her need to apologize constantly…. But it’s for things that I know she hasn’t done… And I don’t know how to help her to see that these things haven’t happened. It is heartbreaking.

Matt Bieber November 22, 2015 at 6:17 pm

That sounds so difficult, Sossity. Please please seek out aid from a professional with expertise in exposure and response prevention. There are ways to address this stuff, but they’re kinda counter-intuitive, and folks with OCD usually need assistance! I work with Dr. Michael Maher at the Reeds Center in NYC; he’s amazing. You might also try the International OCD Foundation for names of qualified therapists in your area.

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