I was thinking the other day as I was out hiking with my dogabout the correlations between Plato's allegory of the cave and OCD. I'm sure everyone remembers the allegory from school, but here is a quick summary. Hope it makes sense.


Imagine mankind as living in a underground cave which has a wide entrance open to the light. Deep inside are human beings facing the inside wall of the cave, with their necks and legs chained so they cannot move. They have never seen the light of day or sun outside of the cave. Behind the prisoners a fire burns, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way on which a low wall has been built,such as is used in puppet shows as a screen to conceal the people working the puppets. Along the raised way people walk carrying all sorts of things which they hold so that they project above the wall statues of men, animals, tress and so forth.. The prisoners, facing the inside wall, cannot see one another, or the wall behind them onwhich the objects are being carried–all they can see are shadows these objects cast on the wall of the cave.




The prsioners live all their lives seeing only shadows of reality, and the voices they hear are only echoes from the wall. But the prisoners cling to the familiar shadows and to their passions and prejudices,but if they were freed and able to turn around and see the realites which produce the shadows, they would be blinded by the light of ththe fire. And they would become anger and would prefer to regain their shadow world.




But, if one of the prisoners were freed and turned around to see, in the light of the fire, the cave and his fellow prsioners and the roadway, and if he were then dragged up and out of the cave into the light of the sun, he would see the things of the world as they truly are and finally he would see the sun itself. What would this person think now of the life in the cave and what people there know of realit yand morality.



So how can we compare this to OCD? To me it is an allegory of sleeping and waking, of our time asleep (OCD) in the dark of the cave and needing to awake to a clear vision of the world. WIth OCD we spend our lives living with illusions and false and conflicting ideals. OUr lives are dominated by the shadow-play on the wall of our cave made by our own imaginations and minds.But once we our unchained and brought out of the cave, we start to see the illusions of our minds for what they were/are—FALSE  .Don't believe everything you think! Especially in regards to OCD.

  1. BritishTuesday 12 years ago

    I love this comparison and you are so very right about how we see the world with OCD and how false that does turn out to be. 

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  2. jtrim 12 years ago

    The hardest part is that its not all fake, every once a while theres a real live tree that reaferms that the things that scare you might be real and every thing might really be your fault.  what do you do to figure out what the shadows are when its to dark to see anything.


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