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The Anxiety Test: My Treatment Continued

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The Anxiety Test
After several sessions with my psychiatrist in the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), Dr. Romero decided administer a test to gauge the level of my anxiety. The object of the test was to probe my innermost feelings relating to anxiety. Because Dr. Romero tends to be somewhat Freudian-like, she deemed it was necessary to to find out what events etc., could have triggered the onset of OCD, or rather the anxiety leading to it. I got where she was coming from.

She started asking me what events had made me very angry. Truthfully, I don’t remember which event I decided to describe to her. I believe it dealt with someone who had ordered me out of the house due to a short lived but terrible argument. The feelings I had were very memorable, more so than the actual words that had been exchanged. Dr. Romero asked me to describe the anger I felt. When I proceeded to do so, she immediately said that I was intellectualizing, and asked me how I felt. I tried again but my answer was not the one she wanted.

She then asked if I had to describe the anger in color, what color would it be. I immediately said black. That was good.

Frankly, this little test was beginning to bother me. I found myself looking for an answer that would please the shrink and thought the whole thing irrelevant. She wanted me to go places that I did not want to go to. For one thing, I didn’t want to commit violence against this person who had hurt me so deeply.

I got the impression that Dr. Romero seemed to think that that is what my unconscious wanted to do. My ego or superego did not want to do that, and was holding me back in expressing my true feelings.

After a while I met her half way. I said that I wanted to slap the person or push them. Actually a small push would have sufficed. Truth be told, I didn’t even want to do that, but like I said, I was meeting her half way.

Now you the reader must be thinking why didn’t I stick to my guns and say no, no I really don’t want to do anything physical. I believe that in the end I did want to please her somehow because she was so insistent.

Add a Comment4 Comments

I agree with your therapist about anger. It's really a difficult thing to handle, and I'm talking about handling it in a way that is not going to be self destructive. I have heard and tend to believe , that women generally turn their anger inwards and men turn it outwards. This is a generalization of course, but I think there's some truth there.

April 16, 2010 - 7:49am

Hi Zelda,
I had a therapist who wanted me to whack a pillow or scream or something, because that worked for her when she was angry. It didn't work for me--it seemed like a big disconnect. But my current therapist has done some helpful work with me, where if something has brought up anger in my current life, he'll have me dip briefly into the past and find an experience where I felt the same way as a child, and we'll do some exploration of what I felt, and whether it was ok to feel that way. Anger really ramps up my OCD, because I'm afraid of anger, and go into ritualizing about "do I really feel angry? Am I justified to feel this way? Am I feeling angry enough?" and generally exhausting myself." My therapist is pragmatic--anger is a sign of being exploited by someone or that I believe I am being exploited, and is a motivator to action, to take care of myself, unless the ocd and other crap steps in and gets me stuck in my head with intellectualizing.

April 15, 2010 - 11:28am


Thank you for such an honest and revealing post. Therapy is such a push-pull exercise. Two people who used to be strangers are now, together, exploring the innermost thoughts and feelings of one of them. It pushes all kinds of buttons for us, I think. It pushes buttons that come from how we react to authority. It pushes buttons regarding how approval-seeking we are. Sometimes, I think the therapists get places before we are ready to go there ourselves, and they pull us along; other times, they're a little off-track but we don't reel them in. I've been in the same situation and I have an inkling of how you feel.

Plus, anxiety is something we (a) don't particularly like to relive and is (b) situation based. I used to be very, very anxious about flying, and sometimes still am. But could I correctly reproduce that anxiety in a therapist's office? No. I could intellectually reproduce it, but I couldn't actually make myself afraid.

It's so interesting. Now, here's my question: Will you tell her that you gave in somewhat to please her?

April 8, 2010 - 9:28am
(reply to Diane Porter)

Hi Diane,
You know I planned to tell her the following week, but by the time the next appointment rolled around I didn't think it was such a pressing issue. But I do plan to tell her somewhere along the line.
I am getting ahead of myself here, but not too long ago I told her I thought she was a good doctor, because all in all she is. She replied something about the fact that I should never idealize her (probably a common happening between shrink and patient.) Well anyway I answered by saying that I don't idealize her at all, and that sometimes I think she can be irritating. She took it well. But that's the truth.

April 9, 2010 - 8:48am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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