This Article will Force You to Question Everything You Know about OCD
Do you have compulsive checking behavior? Then this website is for you. It is also for therapists who wish to know more about this system.
Hey, I’m Chris and I have developed a new psycho-technology that helps people with Safety OCD Checking behavior to drastically reduce their compulsions and anxiety within two to four weeks.
I help accomplish this by using a unique memory system that helps people to remember what they have checked has been checked properly.
There are 4 steps to this process which I have named ‘The Look, Lock, Label & Leave System.’
This system only works for Safety OCD Checking. This means it is specifically targeted to people who repeatedly check that their front door is locked, the water faucets are off, the stove is off, etc. It is also specifically targeted to people who fear that a catastrophe will happen if they haven’t checked properly.
Traditional therapy (specifically ERP) works by helping people to live with doubt and uncertainty.
The Look, Lock, Label & Leave System works by removing that doubt and uncertainty.
We accomplish this by applying a unique stimulus for each thing we check, at the time of checking. Then we ‘label’ this stimulus to a body part.
Thus when your client starts to worry about the front door being unlocked, all he has to do is revisit that particular body part that holds the stimulus.
This stimulus will reaffirm that the door is locked and that he can continue to go about his business. Without any fear. Without any worry. Without any anxiety.
Here’s What We’ll Cover- The Memory Miracle
In this article, I’m going to explain the unique memory system that I’ve called ‘The Look, Lock, Label and Leave System.’ I’ll begin by telling you about my psychiatric history and how I developed OCD. Then we’ll look into some Reddit comments about how people with OCD checking have tried to overcome their disorder. We’ll look into the strength and weaknesses of each technique and how we can make them much better.
Then I’ll introduce you to memory systems and show you what’s possible with a trained memory. We’ll finish off by looking directly into how the 4L’s System (Look, Lock, Label & Leave) overcomes Safety OCD Checking. I’ll give you a specific technique that you can use on your clients straight away.
A Brief History in Madness- Can’t Stop Checking
My psychiatric history began in 1993 when I started hearing voices and was diagnosed as a Schizophrenic. The bad thing was that I was over-medicated and became a chain smoker and obese. Also, the trauma associated with being sectioned shook me up pretty bad.
This combination of over medication and hospitalization made things much, much worse. Schizophrenia was the easy part. My past trauma from childhood was reawakened and I started to self-harm and overdose.
Then I began to get depressed. I also developed ‘Panic Attacks’.
Then nearly ten years later I began to have OCD checking symptoms. I began checking the water faucets, stove, the front door lock, my heater, that I had my wallet on me as well as many other things.
I struggled for about 5 years. By this time I was under the care of my General Prescriber and not the Mental Health team. It was then that I relented and saw a therapist who formally diagnosed me with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I started to receive treatment for a few weeks then I had a revelation that would break the back of my OCD and free me from its prison.
I remember the day clearly. I was checking the oven. ‘I can see the oven is off when I look at it but as soon as I leave I start to doubt myself. What if I haven’t checked it properly? What if the house catches fire?’
Then it hit me. The real reason why I doubt myself is because I can’t remember!
I had read quite a few memory books before I was diagnosed and knew the components of a trained memory.
‘What if there was a way that I could apply memory techniques to remember if everything is off, shut, locked and closed after I’ve checked it?’
So that was my ‘Dark Night of the Soul.’ A quarter of a century of almost unbearable pain and anguish.
Here’s the funny thing though. I had to go through ‘Hell’ in order to get others out. Every challenge I’ve ever had has served a purpose.
I escaped the OCD prison and now I help others.
But before we go into how and why the 4L’s system works I think it would be a good idea to check out Reddit.
We’ll look into Reddit because this social media has novel and unique methods that real people with real OCD have used to overcome their disability.
OCD Checking Reddit- Real People Real Solutions
There are many comments about overcoming OCD checking in Reddit. Although all of those solutions are different most share at least one thing in common. The reason we’re searching Reddit is because real people with real OCD are trying to find real solutions to their illnesses.
Another reason we’re looking at Reddit is that most of these solutions are completely unique.
Let’s find out what those Reddit solutions and commonalities are? (Note: the word modality means a specific sensory channel- hearing, seeing, smelling, touching & tasting.)
- “Try telling yourself, or even saying out loud “The door is locked” as you lock it. That may break the routine and give yourself a personal notation that the door is indeed locked.”–Note: Saying out loud ‘the door is locked’ is slightly unusual but still too normal. Plus it only uses the auditory modality.
- “I found the best way was to play some type of song/rhythm on the doorknob after locking it. Click.. click, click, click-click.. clicka Gangnam style. More annoying the better.”- Note: This method of using song while checking is more unusual than the previous example (Gangman song) but still only uses auditory modality.
- “I usually try to make it a little unique each time so it’s even easier to remember. But it’s pretty boring, I just sing “I’m singing the lock song, I’m singing the lock song” to different tunes.”- Note: Again it only uses auditory modality.
- “I do this, and I’ve only really started to not check as many times. About a year ago, I would walk back to my house after taking so many steps, because I needed to check the door again, even though I remembered locking it.
For example, I’ve been sitting upstairs for a couple of hours, but I had previously locked the front door. I say to myself that I have locked the door, and haven’t used it since, so I know it’s locked. This sounds hard, but I got to that stage by doing the following.
So, there are 3 doors that serve as an entrance into my house. For me, each door was “100%”. So at the end of checking a door, I would say 100, 200, or 300, depending on how many doors I had checked. Saying it in a weird voice also allows you to remember doing it. There’s obviously going to be different ways of tackling the problem, but that was my way, and it’s working so far.
This may not work for you, so you have to develop your own way of doing it. Some people say doing something stupid or embarrassing can help you remember that you have actually done something. It seems that you know you have locked the door, or checked whatever you need to check, but you want the peace of mind that comes with checking just that one more time.”
Note: This example is much more sophisticated. There is an auditory component and the idea of doing something stupid or embarrassing while checking. This is totally in line with my method except the embarrassing aspects are purely mental. No one will know what you are thinking nor when you are thinking about it.
Here’s an example. I’ve moved into a new apartment with a heat pump. When I check that it’s off I look at the hand control to confirm it’s off then I imagine putting on meat underwear (even a g-string.) Now, this sounds absolutely ludicrous but that’s the whole point. Why ‘meat undies?’ Because it is stupid and meat goes off when not refrigerated. (Meat= code word for an off heat pump.)
Also, we have envolved three modalities. Seeing the meat in our imagination, feeling the cold meat up my butt crack and even smell of it being off. All this is great as this is how our memory works.
Before I end this point the author of this technique also uses the ‘faith principle.’ He just trusts his memory (I say to myself that I have locked the door, and haven’t used it since, so I know it’s locked.) He says this is the hardest part. The faith part means you trust yourself and force yourself not to recheck. With my method, this is the easiest and most enjoyable part.
- “Add something to locking the door: Tap on it after you lock it or something… This way if you don’t remember locking the door you’ll remember tapping on it ( because it is unusual), and then you’ll be sure that you locked the door.”-Note: This example uses kinesthetic (touch) to remember. However it still quite normal. Just like in the previous example we can take the touch submodality to a whole new level by making it bizarre and thus much more memorable.
- “I freak out over thinking that I haven’t locked my car, so I say a random, memorable word when I do. So I’ll lock it and say ‘Elephant!’ I never worry about it because I remember the word vividly even though the action is vague.”- Note: This example makes full use of a bizarre & unusual image. However in order to take this to a whole new level our images also need to be logical. For example, a meat g-string is unusual and yet logical as rotting meat is our visual code word for off. (I only use the meat image for the heat pump. I use a different code image for checking the power outlets.)
- “I take a picture of the front door when I leave so that if I ever freak out about it I can just look at the picture. Haven’t had to look at the picture though (as of yet), as the act of taking the photo itself keeps me from worrying about if I accidentally left it open”.–Note: You may think that actually taking a photo of everything you check is ideal. However, there is an easier way. That’s by attaching code images to ourselves so that we carry the information that everything is off, locked and closed. Then when we start to doubt ourselves we just refer to that body part that contains those images. This is as fast as a thought. Much more practical and faster than the speed of light.
So if you’re wondering what all these techniques have in common its that they all trigger a unique stimulus at the time of checking. This unique stimulus is to help us remember that everything is off, locked and closed after we’ve checked it.
So it doesn’t matter if we’re in our lounge or we’re on the other side of the country. Our stimulus will remind us with complete clarity that we are safe.
Here are some important points:
- The more modalities you engage with your imagination the better. ( Seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling & tasting.)
- The more unusual and bizarre these images are the more memorable they are. Thus the better this system works.
- Although we use unusual images they are also logical.
- We add those images to our client’s bodies so that they carry the information wherever they go. These code images confirm that everything has been checked properly so there is no doubt. No doubt means no OCD.
With all these components you can’t help but remember. And that’s the point. All these components are the same ways we use to boost our memory.
Soon we’ll be delving into a specific example on how to use the 4L’s system on our water faucets.
As for now why don’t we look into what’s possible with a trained memory? It’s going to blow you away.
A Trained Memory- The Secret Ingredient
When people say they have a poor memory what they usually mean is that they have an untrained memory. This means that if they were to use certain processes then they would be able to remember more. A lot more.
These memory systems take minutes to learn and can literally boost a memory’s recall ability by several hundred percents.
While certain Savants have remarkable memories the truth is that most memory experts are just like you and I. They just use these processes and practice over and over again.
In other words, they are not ‘superhuman.’ Anybody can turn their memory into a championship-winning memory with time and effort.
Check out this video below to what is possible with a trained memory.
- 30 minutes of binary digits in order- 6,270 digits
- Remembering a random deck of playing cards in order- 12.74 seconds (yes, Ben’s old record was cut in half)
- 15 minutes of random words- 318 words
I know that these records are super impressive but realize that these feats are within reach of any mere mortal willing to put in the work.
Here’s the reason I’m telling you this.
If there is someone out there that can memorize a random deck of cards in under 13 seconds then how difficult can it be to remember if your front door is locked? Or that the faucets are turned off? Or that the fridge door closed?
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is known as ‘Doubting Disease.’ It feeds on our fears and that fear is usually based on doubt.
In order to remove that doubt, we need our clients to apply certain memory processes when they are actually checking.
Once they are installed they’re able to replace that ‘doubt’ with certainty.
OCD Checking needs our doubt to fuel our fears. Without that doubt, it has no power over us.
Now we know the power of a trained memory why don’t we look how we apply the ‘Look, Lock, Label & Leave’ system to our OCD checking.
To be honest the 4L’s system is far easier than traditional memory techniques and processes.
We’ll use the same code images, on the same body parts each and every time.
Let’s look at how we apply the ‘Look, Lock, Label & Leave’ system to checking our water faucets.
OCD Checking Taps Are Off- The End of an Error
Like I said I live in a new apartment. There are four water faucets in my apartment and 6 outside that I use to water the plants and gardens most nights.
So there is a hot & cold in my bathroom. Hot and cold in my kitchen. And six outside to water the whole complex.
Checking Bathroom Faucets
So here’s what I do to remember that my bathroom faucets are off.
- I place my left hand under the cold faucet as well as wiggling my left knee from side to side. On my left knee is an imaginary blue bell. As I’m wiggling I see and hear (in my imagination) a blue bell ringing.
- Then I repeat the same imagery on the right knee except that I place my right hand under the faucet and use red bell (to represent the hot faucet.)
- We place our hands under the faucet so we have a kinesthetic as well as a visual and auditory confirmation that the faucet is off.
In other words, we can keep our usual rituals. Even if those rituals include counting.
With Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) therapy you’re not allowed to ritualize. This is at the heart of traditional therapy. But with the 4L’s system, this is perfectly okay.
What we want to do is accomplish 3 things:
- To check less often
- For each check to consume less time
- To reduce our anxiety levels as much as possible
To this very day, I continue to ritualize. Like I said I place my hand under the faucet to confirm it’s off as well as doing my counting rituals.
I use odd numbers in odd sets.
But here’s the thing. The total time I devote to checking & ritualizing is less than 5 minutes each day.
I get to check, ritualize and practically erase my anxiety altogether.
So if or when we start to doubt our memory and think that we have left our faucet running all we have to do is remember our (imaginary) bells.
If we think we’ve left our hot bathroom faucet running all we do is see, hear and feel that red bell ringing on our right knee. Just giggle your knee (actually physically shake it from side to side) like you did when you first installed it.
This is the unique stimulus I was talking about at the very beginning of this article.
The 15 Minute Hurdle- Breaking Free
Another common worry with this memory system is that our clients think that they’ll have to develop a new variation each and every time they check the front door for example.
No need to worry.
I use the same code images, on the same body part each and every time I check. The reason for this is the 15-minute hurdle.
The 15 minute hurdle means that 15 minutes after the last time your client checks, his or her anxiety will reduce to a manageable level.
So after 15 to 20 minutes of not checking your anxiety won’t be a problem. You’ll be able to handle it.
Here’s another thing. With the 4L’ system, you’re allowed to use it as many times as you like.
If you ritualized for 10, 20, 30 or more minutes straight but had no anxiety afterward do you think that that would be a fair? Virtually every OCD Checker in the world would be happy to take that trade.
Even an hour of straight checking and ritualizing would be considered a miracle cure if there was no anxiety for the rest of the day.
But my system works better. The more often you check with 4L’s system the easier things get. In other words, the more often you check the less you’ll need to (in the long run.)
Here’s how things will work. Your client will check and ritualize as long as they need to. Rechecking minutes later is also allowed, so long as they are following all the steps.
In a very short time, they’ll be able to check for a couple of minutes and nearly erase their OCD associated anxiety.
So this means that in time your client will be able to beat the 15-minute hurdle almost effortlessly.
It’s like it’s almost unfair for your Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder…here’s why:
- You can check and ritualize as long as you like.
- Going past the 15-minute hurdle will be easy.
- The more often you check (using the 4L’s system) the less you check.
- You’ll realize that you’re Stronger than OCD!
I am not boasting. All the above bullet points are absolutely achievable. Achievable within a very short period of time.
Before we finish up this article I wanted to take a quick look into the psychological profession and see what they have to say about the role of memory in OCD checking.
Memory & Psychology (HEADLINE)
Throughout this article, I’ve been espousing the connection between OCD Checking and memory.
I am not a doctor, nor am I a therapist of any sort, nor am I an academic of any kind.
So you may be asking what my qualifications are for developing this system and why it works.
Firstly this is a system and not a therapy. It’s a memory system. Just as I wouldn’t expect a medical doctor to memorize a deck of cards in under 15 seconds, I wouldn’t expect a memory expert to know the name of every bone in the human body.
(Although this is perfectly achievable with the right mnemonic strategy.)
My point is that if you’re trying to understand the ‘Look, Lock, Label & Leave system through the glasses of traditional therapy then you’re going to fail.
Again this is a memory system specifically designed to help you remember what you have checked is safely off, locked and closed.
It is a system based on imagination and not on discipline.
This is why it works so well for this type of OCD checking. It works because OCD is an imagination illness. And when we use mnemonics to boost our memory we can overpower our OCD with the same tricks it uses to keep us checking.
What the OCD Expert’s Say
There have been experiments done to try to find a correlation between memory and OCD checking. The results have been replicated several times.
People who have OCD (including OCD checking) usually have a great memory. In certain instances, their memories are far superior to others who don’t have the illness.
What people with OCD do have is ‘less confidence’ in their memory.
The more we check the less confidence we have. The more we give in to the monster the more powerful he grows.
The more we check the more we blunt our confidence in our memory.
But before we go any further maybe it would be a good idea to see how our memory works.
How Memory Works
There are 3 stages of creating something that is memorable.
Encoding: The first step in remembering something is the encoding. This is where we construct the memory in the language the brain understands. We work with how the brain actually remembers. And the brain remembers vivid, unusual and interactive images.
Like I’ve said with the water faucets, having a ringing bell connected to a limb reminds you that it’s off is. If we were to just say to ourselves the taps are off or just try to visualize a tap not dripping then this is just too normal. The absurdity we use really cements the images (visualizations) in our minds.
The funny thing is that as we’re using the Look, Lock, Label & Leave system we’re storing that information at the same time. (Most of the time we ‘lock-on’ an image to the thing we’re checking before labeling it to a body part. For instance, we’ll look at the faucet and imagine something blocking the nozzle. We could imagine the faucet nozzle having a screw drilled into so it is blocked and so no water will be able to come out. Thus we have visual confirmation on the real faucet we’re checking as well as on our body part. The bell imagery for the faucet is an advanced version of the 4L’s system.) So let’s now look into the second stage.
Storing: Once we’ve encoded the thing we want to remember our next step is to file it away (or store it.) This where the Look, Lock, Label & Leave system really takes things to a whole new level. As we’re encoding the water faucet is off (by imagining the bell) we are also storing that information. We’re attaching it to our knee.
By ‘labeling’ or storing this information onto a body part, we accomplish a couple of important things. Firstly by storing it on a body part, we introduce a ‘kinesthetic’ element to our check. By doing this we make the image (bell) much more sticker.
Also by storing the bell image on a body part, we’re able to carry that information wherever we go. Which makes retrieval much easier. Let’s look into the retrieval process right now.
Retrieval: After we’ve encoded and stored the information that the faucet is off all we need to do is review the image in our imagination. For instance, you may have attached the image of the bell to your knee before you left your house.
Thus when you start to doubt yourself and imagine your house flooding, all you have to do is shake your leg (actually do this) and hear, see and feel that bell ringing. We know we always use the bell for remembering that the faucets are off so our minds will be put at ease. Don’t try and remember the real faucet, just focus on the imaginary bell.
With traditional therapy, this is the hardest part. We have to use discipline and lots of it. With the Look, Lock, Label & Leave system this is the most satisfying part. With traditional therapy, you have to force yourself not to check. With the 4L’s system, we remove that doubt.
So now that we know how to remember what we’ve checked has been checked properly why don’t we look into the research that claims that OCD checking is not affected by memory.
We’ll find out why this is both true and not true.
The Problem with OCD and Memory Research
4L’s based of faucets……(headline) include current water garden
- Example of Faucets….with bell
- 15-minute hurdle…..stop reviewing after 15 minutes…use again and again
- Research with OCD & Memory flaws….(the difference between regular memory and trained memory.)….
- No training in how to adapt the memory techniques to Checking OCD
- Who this training is for….include 24 Hour Rescue table…..(already created)
- Although NOT a therapy…since we all improve our memory the same way…any therapist can use this system in treating Safety OCD checking