Absolutely. The intrusive and obsessive thoughts, impulses, or images that characterize OCD create fear in you, and that fear elicits a fight or flight response. It is actually called the Fight/Flight/ Freeze (FFF) response, because you may have three reactions to a stressor, you will either (a) fight it off, (b) run away from it, or (c) freeze and hope it passes by you without it noticing you. The compulsion that is performed to neutralize the obsession is a way of “flight” from the fear of the obsession. The compulsion removes the feared effects of the obsession, and the person experiences relief. However, that relief is only temporary, and the obsession returns again and again, leading to more compulsive behavior. Exposure therapy relies on choosing the fight response, that is, facing the feared obsession without performing a compulsion and learning that you can handle the outcome.
- Does exposure and response prevention (ERP) have any side effects?
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