3 Ways I Embrace the Placebo Effect with My OCD

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My type of OCD (Primarily Obsessional OCD) takes place almost entirely in my brain. However, I do interact with the world outside of my brain, and when I do so I am a fully willing participant in the placebo effect. I’m not sure of the science behind this particular angle of the effect, but I completely know I am within the effects of placebos, yet they still work. I wonder sometimes if this means I am stupid, but I don’t actually worry much about that. I know I am not, but I know I am not good at the world outside my brain to the point where I need falsehoods to bring about positivity.

I am a willing participant in the placebo effect, and here are three ways that it manifests itself.

1. Multivitamins
I worry a lot about the efficacy of the medication I am on. This is because I—like many with mental health issues—have been through the roulette wheel of trying all sorts of medication that truly turned out not to work. But psychological medication is a roulette wheel, and I accept that. I did find myself once sliding into deep anxiety for about a week. I remembered at the time that I heard from scientists what I already knew—that multivitamins are generally a waste of money. “Expensive pee.” So I stopped taking my multivitamin nightly.

I know for a fact (to at least ninety percent certainty) that the lack of multivitamin was not causing my anxiety. But I couldn’t risk it any longer, and quite honestly I knew going back on the multivitamins (which really aren’t that expensive) would be embracing only the placebo effect when returning to the regimen. And I did. And it… sorta… worked. Enough so that I’m willing to plop down $12 every so often. Expensive pee, happier me. I’ll take it. I’m now obsessed with it.

2. Speaking to a God
My relationship with whatever created this universe is deeply rooted in science, and thus I feel is in a way more unknown to me than for those who believe in a religious story of a God who takes on a human-ish form and who created and rules over our world and universe. Science—and thusly I—take the view that right now none of this can be known.

Now, you’ve heard of non-religious people under extreme stress moving to prayer because they feel hopeless and will essentially try anything to relieve themselves of the situation they’re in.

I don’t often do this. Extreme stress and anxiety are pretty much a given on an average of half the days I am alive. I suffer from anxiety beyond my OCD.

But I do find that I talk with a God of some sort. Heck, I even capitalized the name, though I am not a believer. Or, at least, I don’t know enough to be a believer. Why do I talk to God? Because of the ultimate in placebo effect reasoning: why risk not doing it? It’s free, it takes only a little time, it is probably meaningless, but if it is not meaningless it is worth the tradeoff. A placebo effect is often a gamble with little outlay on one’s part. And with my OCD, I’ll always take such a gamble.

3. Numerology
I’ve mentioned it before but I can’t overstate how much this plays into my every single day. I have an obsession that the numbers 111 and 1111 foretell positive future events, while the numbers 112, 110, 1112, and 1110 foretell the opposite. This is not something I seek out, this is something I observe through a flawed thought process when viewing things like clocks and other sequences of numbers. And it is all BS. I know that my viewing of these numbers has no scientific effect on how the future will play out. Heck, they’re so close together that it literally takes work to notice one and not the other within a minute of each other. As in, 1:11 PM follows less than a minute after I notice 1:10 PM on a clock.

Yet I am obsessed. I will try to close my eyes whenever I see the bad numbers in hopes that the good ones appear shortly after.

But I cannot stop absorbing the observation of said numbers as something positive or negative. And as a placebo, I prefer the positive repeating numeral ones. It is a placebo. The numbers occur as common as sugar, and they are like a pill ingested to provide a mental benefit.

So there you go. There are probably other ways I embrace the placebo effect. The key is I do it knowingly. Fully knowingly. Which, again, may make me stupid. But it is the placebo effect and when weighing all the factors and expenses—it is worth it.