I just finished watching the crazy OCD Oprah with Dr Oz. Did anyone see this show? The show featured 6 OCD suffers and followed them as they went through an intensive treatment weekend. Most of the participants suffer from extreme germaphobia. These are men and women whose lives are literally crippled by their obsessive compulsive thoughts and actions. While watching it I was reminded of how easy it is to dismiss someone else's experience when it doesn't match up with our own. I don't have one ounce of germaphobia and of course I can see how irrational that fear is... but it reminded me of my own.
I have such a strong, crippling, fear of rats that I can in fact empathize. While, of course, I can more easily avoid rats than they can avoid germs... I could feel and relate to the level of anxiety and trauma they had to go through while testing their limits and pushing through their compulsions. While it would have been nothing to me to touch a toilet seat, or the inside of a dumpster, there is no way in Hell you could get me to touch a rat. Seriously. I would rather be locked into a burning room than locked into a room with a loose rat. I don't even know if I can come up with something worse to me than being in close proximity to a rat... let alone my absolute worst fear... having a rat crawl up my body. I don't even like that I've just typed that. So as silly as their exercises may have seemed to an outside observer I commend them. It is more than I would be willing to do.
And please don't go writing a whole bunch of rat anecdotes... seriously I can't handle it.