Where Correlation Is Causation, but Not How You Would Think

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I’ve spoken about my OCD in a manner that while not always positive—because it is not—I have explained things that make sense. Other than my live and ongoing OCD episodes—That is to say, I have mostly detailed OCD in a manner where everything about my OCD fits a certain type of logical mechanism. It is often not normal as compared to the rest of the people in the world, which of course makes it a disorder. And we can go on about the concepts of “disorder” and “illness” another time. The point is my brain is still firing according to a logic of some sort.

I’m going to explore a place where this is not the case. That is the connections between correlation and causation. My OCD connects the two, though I am a very logical person. In fact, I generally keep this hidden to everyone other than those closest to me. Because I know it is the simplest of logical fallacies. Yet, I cannot stop it.

I have spoken before about omens, which is similar. But these are generally external things people do which I feel create an environment where bad things will happen. Omens exclusively deal with the future, and with potential. Yes, often illogically, but also often with a logic behind them—just peppered with paranoia and “every eventuality” thinking to an extreme.

With OCD, my brain is full of concentration on many more connections between events than the normal brain. This, in part, defines OCD for me. One cannot think of all connections—that is infinite and impossible. Oh, but my brain tries and it comes pretty achingly close. “I think of everything” is not a compliment or a good characteristic here about me!

I do not believe in randomness, and I also—while struggling with ideas of a higher power—believe most things are caused by events of this physical, right-here world. I am also obsessive. I must know what is going on and why. Everything. While I know I cannot control everything, nor do I wish to in cases not involving negative things happening to me—I cannot stop observing everything, and charting the causation of pretty much all things until my mind is overloaded. Constantly overloading one’s mind—just for the sake of filling emptiness—is a characteristic of OCD.

I’m usually pretty good at figuring out the causes of things. I think I am right about this most of the time. That is not to say I am mostly right in my opinions of things! I am merely saying I am mostly right in connecting things.

However, OCD can be messy, especially in the situation of needing to know the cause of all things. The dirty part is when a figurative tentacle in my brain is left hanging about an event—especially ones negatively affecting me—without a coloration to anything. When, as others would put it, something just friggin’ happens. Most people just stop there. Que Sera, Sera.

I cannot do this.

Thus, I will find a coloration—a connection between events. At times I will even find a temporary coloration that may be an affront to my need for things to be logical. I get bitten by my neighbor’s dog1. My neighbor is an alcoholic. Alcoholics characteristically are careless with their lives.

My neighbor must be careless training her dog not to bite others. My neighbor is the reason I was bitten by her dog, A human (neighbor) to human (myself) connection must exist. I cannot accept the foggy, almost random, nature of a less-intelligent animal’s brain in terms of the cause of my dog bite. Knowing that the dog has been friendly to me in the past, and just somehow turned on me is far too random for my OCD to accept as a conclusion. The “just somehow” doesn’t work. So I need to correlate a series of more logical realities to make things whole and organized.

This sort of situation presented above really doesn’t cause a lot of problems. I can correlate the mechanisms of alcoholism and walk away from the situation just fine. Where all of this becomes murky is when my past actions are involved.

A pretty omnipresent characteristic of my OCD is my frequent need to rewind time. To go back and do over events for a variety of reasons—some pretty obvious, but as I’ll go into here, some not so obvious.

I am constantly obsessed with presenting myself right. “Right” means a lot of things, and is outside the scope of this article. We’ll just leave it as I have a way I feel I need to present myself for actions to take effect for my benefit. It may seem selfish, but it is really a coping mechanism more than anything. I can’t take much more negativity, as my brain is always overflowing with it.

I will send out an intense email, maybe angry. I’ll have ruminated on this email for days most likely. I abhor confrontation, after all. I will have obsessed over every word. It will never be perfect enough, and I assure you I have deleted the draft of the email multiple times to keep me from even sending it. To me, it is an enormous deal, this email. To the recipient most likely not as enormous—though not a small deal to either of us. That is my obsession and some compulsion thrown in there for good measure. Makes sense.

I send the intense and angry email. I immediately want it back to think about it even more. Why? Because I am correlating events in my head that have happened in completely separate scenarios and conflating them with what will happen to me because of this email.

Oh, and I go to uncomfortable places! Note this is not an email dealing with anything in the criminal or legal realm. Yet I will think, for example, that (crazy) people have been triggered in the past by things as simple as a testy email to start filing lawsuits because things are not going their way perfectly. In fact, I know of a person who did this sort of thing. It does not regard me all of the massive events that precipitated such crazy behavior, I just know it is possible. I correlate the actions of a completely different person in a completely different scenario who was prone to filing lawsuits upon things not going his way. I also know that is, indeed—if we’re talking about “every eventuality” thinking—a possibility here. Oh, so absolutely remote that I should not be even thinking about it. But I do because I obsess over eventualities.

So here I have walked through a correlation of a completely separate situation, and placed that into causation on something that not only hasn’t happened yet, but something that will only—I am 99.999% sure—happen in my own brain. My email will not trigger a lawsuit, which will wipe me of all my money, which will leave me homeless. Though I think it!

This is a very difficult logic to handle. Because I know I am good at true logic, yet a part of my brain cannot be forced into seeing the multitude of fallacies it is presenting me to act on—or at least obsess over. This logic is a very cloudy adaptation of correlation and causation—because it is mixed up with past events and future events in a way that even goes beyond the typical correlation/causation logic.

To put this difficult-to-handle logic simply: I am using the correlation of completely absurd non-connected events from the past to apply to causation on something that hasn’t even been caused and most likely will not even need a thought of causation! Murky indeed, especially for someone who is an extremely logical person.

Logical, in part of my brain.


1 This just happened. Contact me if you are into gore. I have pictures.  [BACK]