Ask me anything about OCD!

John-Michael Kuczynski
Jan 11, 2018

I have a very thorough subjective as well as objective understanding of this illness and also of what it reveals about the mind. There are no few other mental illnesses that, if properly understood, reveal so much about the mind and there are few other mental illnesses that are so misunderstood. I believe that OCD is actually a by-product of an extremely powerful but temporarily misdeployed mental operating system. And I believe that the psychological architecture that mediates OCD can be as much of an asset to its owner as OCD is a liability. As a theoretician, I have had real breakthroughs in terms of understanding OCD; and as a clinician, I had real breakthroughs when it comes to alleviating OCD and even turning it into an asset. I love understanding and helping people, and I would like to answer your questions.

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What are some early signs for OCD in children?

Jan 11, 7:26PM EST0

First of all, all children are OCD. In fact, OCD is actually a prolongation into adulthood of the child's 'binary' emotional relation to the world. When you send a child to camp, he kicks and screams and cries. Then he has to come home, he cries again. Also, children, much like obsessive-compulsives, are soothed by repetition and like familiarity. They like to be told the same story at bedtime, night after night, and sleep with the same stuffed animal. That said, children who are actually OCD--i.e. who will be OCD as adults--do have some distinctinve characteristics. The main difference between them and non-OCD children is that they tend to have rituals and peculiarities that are specific to them. All children like to sleep with same stuffed animal night after and be told the same story night after night. But only OCD children have to sleep with a glass of water next to the bed or have to put their left shoe on before their first. Also, OCD children tend to be more cholicy and more emotionally intense and extreme than others children---more prone to bouts of depressive withdrawl. But I stress that OCD is never itself the issue, and OCD is not eliminated by being confronted head-on. OCD is about withdrawl from a frightening world into a safe space of thought and ritual, and the only way to conquer OCD is to conquer fear. Which one does by developing strengths of character and intellect. OCD is given rise to by emotional vulnerability, which in turn is given rise to by actual vulnerability--by defenselessness. And the way to defeat OCD is to give proper, non-neurotic defenses to the person in question.

Last edited @ Jan 12, 1:06AM EST.
Jan 11, 8:52PM EST0

How do people with anxiety disorder interact with others?

Jan 9, 6:02AM EST1

People who have anxiety disorders are that way  primarily because they have a lot of rage which, for various reasons (many legitimate), they don't want to express directly and which therefore come out in their not wanting to be around others or, when they are around others, in their behaving in an alienating or off-putting way. Some people with anxiety disorders will avoid others as much as possible. Some will have a few close friends and otherwise be remote from 'the herd.' Oftentimes, if someone has an anxiety disorder, it will come out in the form of alienating mannerisms, e.g. he may have peculiar and possibly off-putting mannerisms, e.g. he may say 'um, um, um...' in between words (as was the case with a former co-worker of mine), or he may vaccilate between excessive 'chumminess' and petulant aggressiveness (as was the case with that same co-worker). Generally, they give off the impression that they are not comfortable in their own skin. They may have a 'bumbler' quality--they may 'accidentally' (meaning intentionally but not consciously so) drop things or trip over things, in the way that Woodie Allen sometimes does in his movies. (Recall the scene in Annie Hall when Woodie Allen snorts some cocaine and then sneezes it out--that is a sign of an anxiety-disorder.) Relatedly, they may tell a lot of jokes: humor is, in fact, one of the most common signs of anxiety disorder, and almost all truly funny people have at least a touch of such a disorder. Humor serves a number of functions in such people. On the one hand, it gives those with anxiety disorders a socially acceptable, or semi-acceptable, way of discharging the aggression that they feel towards others. At the same time, it enables those people to connect with others---it gives them a way that is amenable to them of establishing emotional bonds with others. Also, people with anxiety disorders sometimes live in a 'minimalist' way--in a kind of hyper-frugal way, in the manner of an ascetic philosopher. In any case, people with anxiety disorders tend to be loners and this is reflected in their interactions with others. The main thing to know is that anxiety disorders are ultimately about angers towards others; they are more about rage than they are about fearfulness. The fearfulness is actually secondary---they are afraid that they might imperil themselves by lashing out at others. 

Last edited @ Jan 9, 4:59PM EST.
Jan 9, 4:36PM EST0
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Are there magazines or newspapers that have articles about OCD?

Jan 9, 4:02AM EST1

Check this out: ocduk.org/

I myself would like to start such a journal---though it will be more of an interactive, multi-media site (a comprehensive intellectual 'expeirence') than a journal in the traditional sense.

Jan 9, 5:02PM EST0
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Do you think that family plays an important role in dealing with this disorder?

Jan 9, 3:51AM EST0

Yes. Family has a twofold role. On the one hand, when a given person has OCD, part of the cause is likely to be ambivalence towards a parent. It is likely that person in question both intensely loves and intensely resents a mother or a father (or both). OCD is about ambivalence; it is about being of two minds towards someone or something that is very important to one, and parents are at the top of the list of such things. 

At the same time, family can do much in the way of helping with someone with OCD. They can help not by interferining with, or micro-managing, that person's existence---which is likely to exacerbate his OCD--but by providing a safe and loving 'haven' from a threatening world.

Having OCD involves having intense, and exxagerated, feelings of vulnerability. There is a heavy element of hyper-sensitivity in OCD--of reactive 'touchiness' and people-avoidant behavior---which is a precipitate of adverse and conflict-ridden interactions with people in the past. And family, by providing a loving and accepting environment, can help settle the obsessive-compulsive's overactive nerves and help put him on the road to recovery.

Last edited @ Jan 9, 4:55PM EST.
Jan 9, 4:47PM EST0

Do you know any celebrity or politician who is suffering from this disorder?

Jan 8, 8:35AM EST0

The first thing to know is that most celebrities who claim to have OCD are lying. Penelope Cruz does not have OCD, neither does Cameron Diaz. They may be obsessive-compulsive when it comes to their beauty-rituals, but their 'OCD' is not real OCD. True OCD is about emotional conflict; their 'OCD' is about narcissism. In any case, among those who actually have OCD are Howie Mandel and (surprisingly) Chris Farley. Beethoven had OCD. Einstein supposedly had OCD, but I question this. And, famously, Dr. Johnson--the lexicographer--had OCD.

It seems that Ted Turner probably has OCD.

Also, of course, Howard Hughes had it--a particularly virulent case.

Politicians almost never OCD. OCD is about self-doubt. Being a politician is about narcissism--it is about the absence of self-doubt. 

People with OCD utterly hate discussing their OCD. And when people say 'I'm soooo OCD', they not only don't have OCD; they are the very opposite of OCD people. The brain scans of people who are 'sooo OCD' are more similar to those of psychopaths than they are to those of people with OCD. 

Finally, Roseanne Barr (the comedian) has OCD. 

OCD tends to afflict people who are thoughtful and troubled. Hence Barr, Chris Farley (whose buffoonery masked a pensive and vulnerable person), Beethoven and Johnson. 

I wonder sometimes whether Socrates had OCD.

Last edited @ Jan 9, 5:16PM EST.
Jan 9, 4:41PM EST0
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Where can we find you if we would like to have a consultation?

Jan 8, 5:54AM EST0

Hi, Please go to: 


Then go to the tab called "Live OCD Consultation". 

Here is the link: 


Last edited @ Jan 9, 7:45PM EST.
Jan 9, 4:48PM EST0

How often an OCD patient should undergo counseling?

Jan 7, 10:06PM EST0

OCD cannot be isolated from the subject's personality as a whole. And there is no way to treat OCD except by restoring integrity to that person's entire personality. OCD is not the real problem: the emotional conflicts that give rise to OCD are the problem. And it is those that have to be treated. Targeting the OCD itself, in isolation of the subject's entire personality-structure, will lead only to superficial and temporarily behavioral changes. And unless there is a complete re-integration of the subject's personality, the OCD will recrudesce and will continue to drain away the subject's time, energy, and substance.

Because successful OCD-therapy requires such comprehensive changes to the subject, it must be done very frequently, for a fairly long time, with somebody extremely competent. Ideally, it should be done five days/week for five years. At the very least, it should be done four days/week for three years. And it should be done with somebody who understands OCD and is also deeply intelligent and has a comprehensive, psychoanalytically oriented approach to psychotherapy. There are two problems: being able to pay for it and finding somebody adequate. I myself provide online service. 

Jan 7, 10:28PM EST0
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Was there a moment in your life that made you decide to help people with OCD?

Jan 7, 9:49PM EST0

I have had an intimate relationship with OCD for over thirty years. I have experienced it, studied it, written about it and overcome it. But it wasn't until I myself completely conquered my own OCD that I decided to treat others with OCD. In fact, it was my making that decision that was itself the final step in the restoration of my personality. OCD is about not accepting oneself. And when I decided to treat people with OCD, I was finally completely accepting myself, and thus at long last conquering my own OCD.

Jan 7, 10:34PM EST0
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How dangerous do you think OCD is?

Jan 7, 11:37AM EST0

The 'danger' with OCD is that the person who has it will be psychologically paralyzed for his entire life. People with OCD are highly principled and are not themselves dangerous to others. But OCD is, quite literally, crippling. The obsessive-compulsive lacks psychological freedom, in much the way that a quadriplegic lacks physical freedom. And one cannot truly live unless one has freedom. So, yes, OCD is, in that respect, extremely dangerous. 

Jan 7, 3:58PM EST0

Is there an effective treatment that can eliminate OCD for good?

Jan 7, 9:07AM EST0

There is only one way to 'get rid' of OCD. And that is to find a calling in life in which one's obsessive compulsive tendencies are an assett, as opposed to a liability. OCD is not so much an illness as it is a distinctive way of processing emotional information. In the wrong environment, that psychological architecture can hold one back; in right one, it can push one forward. Many writers, composers, mathematicians, lawyers, philosophers and creative and analytical people of many stripes (e.g. Beethoven, Einstein, Dr. Johnson) have OCD; such people have found callings in which their OCD works for them. So it's not about eliminating it; it's about putting it to one's advantage. I myself have done that in a very big way. I am being OCD right now, in writing such a thorough answer, but in being so thorough in this context, I am putting to my obsessive-compulsive tendencies to non-pathological use, instead of letting them express themselves as OCD. And that is point: one doesn't get rid of mental illnesses by getting rid of them; one chooses to work in areas in which those mental illnesses are functional and, therefore, not mental illnesses

Last edited @ Jan 9, 3:35AM EST.
Jan 7, 2:51PM EST0

What mental health problems do you worry about most?

Jan 7, 8:22AM EST0

Different people have different mental health problems. My personal problem is converting ideas into action. I am very comfortable analyzing situations, but I become very fearful when it comes time to put ideas into action. So what I worry about, for my own self, is my ability to get outside of my bubble of thought. I don't worry about whether I am sane, since I have always seen reality very clearly. I worry about whether I can do anything with my clear perceptions. And that is why, in my own research, I focus on OCD, and on other conditions, in which it is the subject's ability to act, not his ability to think, that is impaired.

Jan 7, 2:51PM EST0

What are the signs and symptoms of people with this kind of illness?

Jan 7, 7:03AM EST0

They obsess. They compulsively carry out rituals and stereotyped actions that they know to be absurd. They 'do and undo': they begin an action; then stop doing it; then do it again; then reverse themselves again; and so on, never actually following through. They are hyper-sensitive, both in the sense that they are keenly aware, and also in the sense that they are very easily stung by criticism. (But they can nonetheless very tough and determined, making others believe that they are not sensitive, even though they are.) They are thinkers more than they are doers. They are high scrupulous--neurotically and excessively so. But they are this way because they are containing extreme sadistic and aggressive tendencies. They are extremely sexual, but are unwilling to let themselves gratify their own sexuality, since the aggressiveness inherent in it troubles them. They are 'crypto'-criminals, in that they very much wish to commit crimes. At the same time, they have strong moral codes and therefore suppress their criminality, as well as their sexuality (which is itself highly criminalized). The result being that their sexuality and criminality come out in their symptoms--in their ritualizing, which itself mirrors the sexual act, in its piston-like aggressive repetitiveness.

Last edited @ Jan 7, 10:35PM EST.
Jan 7, 3:58PM EST0

Can nutrition help heal people with OCD?

Jan 7, 6:50AM EST0

Yes. Huge amounts of fish oil/krill oil. Lots of vegetables. Rice instead of wheat. And caffeine/modafinil help offset the depression that mediates OCD. At first, stimulants exacerbate OCD, but they ultimately help channel OCD-energies in the right direction. Alcohol should be used moderately, if at all. Cannibis should be avoided.

Jan 7, 3:58PM EST0

Why do you think people with this illness barely seek help or prefers to just keep it to themselves?

Jan 7, 3:38AM EST0

OCD has to do in large part with having enormous, almost volcanic reserves of aggression. Also, the obsessive-compulsive, partly because of his antagonism towards others, is extremely 'touchy' and sensitive and easily wounded by other people's slights (or perceived slights). So the obsessive-compulsive tends to avoid others, so as to avoid triggering his own hostility towards others. And as a result, the obsessive-compulsive tends to be more thought-oriented than relationship-oriented. But to some extent, the obsessive-compulsive is, by nature, more thought-oriented than relationship-oriented, this being why he decompensates by becoming obsessional (obsessions being compulsive-thoughts), rather than co-dependent or otherwise morbidly attached to others. Finally, the obsessive-compulsive is a crypto-narcissist: he sees the world as revolving around himself, much like a young child, and the presence of others, with their failure to bow down to him, infuriates him.

Last edited @ Jan 7, 10:35PM EST.
Jan 7, 3:02PM EST0

Is there something positive about this condition? How can a sufferer gain this positive effect?

Jan 7, 2:53AM EST0

There is an enormous amount that is positive about this condition. The obsessive-compulsive has a powerful mind, and he is emotionally very 'alive'--he has plenty of affect and is emotionally very responsive. The obsessive-compulsive needs to find a life-path in which his ability and willingness to think and focus on details is a strength, rather than a weakness. If he finds such a path, this his obsessive-compulsive tendencies will propel him forward. If he doesn't, they will hold him back.

Jan 7, 3:10PM EST0

Is this a genetic disorder or can be inherited from parents?

Jan 7, 12:59AM EST0

There is an extremely heavy genetic component. In order to come down with OCD, one must have obsessive-compulsive tendencies. One inherits the 'brain-wiring' that gives rise to OCD. Environment supplies the triggers that activate that wiring.

Jan 7, 3:11PM EST0

How can you help someone who does not accept or unaware that he/she has a mental condition?

Jan 7, 12:18AM EST0

You cannot.

Jan 7, 3:12PM EST0

People must heal themselves. Those who admit that they have a problem can enlist the support of a therapist. Those who don't cannot and will not change.

Jan 7, 3:14PM EST0

What do you think is the most common mental illness in children?

Jan 6, 5:35PM EST0

Most mental illnesses are latent in childhood, only becoming manifest during adolescence. The child tends to carry within himself the germs of mental illnesses that will later afflict him, but those seeds tend to lie dormant until the subject's mid to late teens, at which point they explode in full blown mental illness.  But when children are actually mentally ill, as opposed to just latently so, the ailments are usually ADD, ADHD, depression and anxiety. In any case, that is the conventional wisdom. My belief is that, in children, ADD/ADHD/depression/anxiety are non-pathological reactions to unhealthy educational environments. 

Jan 7, 3:47PM EST0

Are there foundations or organizations dedicated in helping OCD patients?

Jan 6, 4:17PM EST0

Hi, Short answer--No. 

Long answer: 

Check out the following organizations:

International OCD Foundation


And Recovery Ranch:


I have reached out to colleagues of mine to see if they know anything. 

But there really doesn't seem to be anything. 

Jan 7, 3:59PM EST0

Do you ever worry about your own mental health?

Jan 6, 3:51PM EST0

I worry about my ability to live life fully. I worry about my ability to convert my wisthes into realities. I don't worry about whether I am seeing reality as it is. And on the rare occassions that I have questioned my sanity, it turned out that I was simply experiencing a lot of anxiety and that my understanding of reality had not in any significant way been warped. There are two different kinds of mental illnesses. There are those that damage a person's ability to see reality as it is (these being psychoses). And there are those that damage a person's ability to act on his knowledge. I am not deluded, and thus don't suffer from the first sort of condition, but I do often have difficulty converting thoughts into deeds and do quite possibly suffer from the second.

Jan 7, 3:50PM EST0

OK. Thanks, But knowing you are surfering from the other type of mental illness, How do you treat that and what advice can you give to someone surfering same?

Jan 12, 7:18AM EST0