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Sensorimotor OCD

You’ve probably been told the importance of good posture. You've heard the common hints and hacks:

“Imagine you are being hung from a string…”

“Shoulders back, butt in.”

"Tuck your chin."

Our bodies are created to constantly adjust and regulate our bodies automatically:

  • our posture

  • our breathing

  • our blinking

  • other automatic functions.

But imagine that none of that was automatic. Every few seconds, you were consciously thinking about that posture, or that blinking, or that breathing. You might feel that you could never be free.

Sensorimotor OCD takes everyday regulatory functions and focuses on them obsessively. With Sensorimotor OCD, "You may be very aware of your posture, for example how you sit or how you hold yourself when you walk."[1]

  • You walk around constantly worrying about whether your back and head are "hanging from a string."

  • Your neck becomes sore because you constantly move your head back to make sure your ears are above your shoulders.

  • You put your hand on your back to make sure the curve is right.

  • You check mirrors to see if your posture looks good.

  • You wake up during the night to make sure you’re on your side with the correct curvature in the back.

Or you may start worrying about the movement of your legs. You become obsessed with "how [your] body parts are positioned... where your legs and arms are placed when you’re sitting your limbs move when you’re walking ... sounds that your limbs make as you move, such as creaking of joints. This can increase fears about whether something is wrong."[1]

  • Are your legs straight as you walk?

  • Is your hip going to pop out of joint?

  • Are you walking unevenly on your feet?

  • Are your feet turning in?

  • Is your back getting scoliosis?

It takes all the joy out of your walk, doesn't it? It adds so much anxiety to your day.

When your life is consumed with automatic functions, such as blinking, breathing, posture, or leg movement, you may have Sensorimotor OCD.

As with all subtypes of OCD, the solution is Exposure and Response Prevention. My therapist helped me uncover specific fears related to posture and helped me find greater freedom.

Nathan Peterson has excellent videos that will help you learn more about Sensorimotor OCD

and Exposure and Response Prevention. His series is gentle, reassuring, and comforting. I also encourage you to find a local or virtual OCD therapist who can guide you personally about your underlying fears.

[1] Your Guide to Sensorimotor & Somatic OCD


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