Life in a Glass Cage: An Extended Metaphor for OCD

by Matt B. on January 20, 2014

Imagine you live in a glass box just slightly larger than your body. It is shaped such that you can neither sit nor stand.

Through the glass, you see the world going to and fro. It looks very inviting, and you think, If only I could crack the glass, I’d have my freedom.

But another part of you knows that isn’t true. You tried many times before. Sometimes, you’ve pulled your body back as far as you could, then slammed forward. But the glass was far too thick, and you found yourself woozy and bleeding.

Other times, you’ve fractured the glass with a well-placed elbow, only to see the panes spray inward, shocking your skin with their edges.

For a while, you learned helplessness. And then you began to wonder why you’re in this cage to begin with. Who put you here, and why?

The construction is too precise, you notice, the seals flawless. There are no joints or nails or hinges – just one single unbroken pane, bent perfectly to accommodate your body. There is just enough air to keep you breathing, and nothing more.

The case is an exoskeleton.

It is yours, a part of you like your toes or your hips or your earlobes. Actually, it is more so, because you could do without these bits. But the glass cannot be dispensed with, because it is an outward projection of your mind. You’ve been sitting still for a very long time, afraid of what a twitch or gesture might bring. The glass is solid because you are. And you can learn to move.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Janet Singer January 21, 2014 at 4:28 pm

A powerful post, Matt. I know many OCD sufferers say they feel as if they are prisoners.You have created a great metaphor.

Matt Bieber January 21, 2014 at 4:42 pm

Thanks very much, Janet.

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