Sunday, November 08, 2009

Brain Lock

Do you or someone you know have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and don't know where to turn for help? A good place to start is with the book, Brain Lock: Free Yourself from Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior. This self-help book is written by Jeffrey Schwartz, a psychiatrist at UCLA School of Medicine who says that OCD is related to a biochemical imbalance in the brain, rather than due specifically to emotional factors.

Schwartz states in bold letters that "we have scientific evidence that cognitive-behavioral therapy alone actually causes chemical changes in the brains of people with OCD." In the book, he teaches the person with OCD to change their brain chemistry.

He does this by focusing on a Four Step Program: Relabel, Reattribute, Refocus, and Revalue. "Relabel" is when you call the intrusive thought or urge to do a troublesome compulsive behavior exactly what it is in order learn the difference between OCD and reality. "Reattribute" is when you answer the question, "Why does this keep bothering me?" and remind yourself that you have the symptoms of a medical problem and take action, "What can I do about it?" "Refocus" is learning to turn your attention to more constructive behaviors. Finally, "Revalue" is learning to view OCD symptoms as the useless garbage they really are.

I have read other books on OCD in the past but had not read this one until today. I recommend it if you would like to know more about OCD or how to help yourself or someone else take action to change his or her behavior. For those with OCD frequently live very inhibited and restricted lives full of internal suffering, though often, they look okay to the outside world.

Do you have or know anyone with OCD? If so, share your experience or thoughts in the comments.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

To be honest, I have a couple things in this arena that plague me from time to time. Did I lock the door when leaving or before going to bed? Did I turn off the coffee pot? The oven? The stove?
Thank God I don't use all appliances in the house in the mornings. I'd have a check list taped to the back side of the front door that would be a whole page long.

At times, I have indeed forgotten to do one of the things stated above, which has gotten me out of bed to check more than once, and gotten me to turn around (while on my way to work) and go back home to check the coffee pot.

I do have a problem with forgetfulness on many fronts, which re-enforces the need to double check. Especially when I find the double check was warranted. Perhaps being an ADHD air head about some things breeds OCD? At least there is never a dull moment.

11:21 AM, November 08, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

I had an OCD friend who was always checking the stove to make sure all the burners were off.

A month ago I went on a 3 day holiday. Oddly enough I left a burner on my stove on while I was gone. I came home and noticed my kitchen was a little warm and quickly figured out why. During the 3 days the burner was on my house didn't burn down and nobody suffocated.

All I can say is that if you are OCD and are constantly checking the stove, don't sweat it. Even if you did leave a burner on your home will be just fine.

5:44 PM, November 08, 2009  
Blogger David said...

I have the OCD checking and hoarding problems. I have been known to check the door locks 5 or more times if I am the last person to leave the house. I sometimes go back home on the way to work to make sure that I put the garage door down.

I also have a library that is almost 700 books. A good number of them are reference items, but none the less, I don't need that many. I have even bought books that I already had. The forgetfulness (like br549 mentioned above) turns around and reinforces the checking mechanism.

12:21 AM, November 09, 2009  
Blogger Ann Kerns said...

br549, I have the same problem. In my case, I'm usually convinced that I've left the iron on. It seems to come out of running around the house in the morning and/or doing the same routine tasks every day. I've tried to remedy that by just stopping and taking a mental picture. I almost literally say to myself, "See the plug for the iron laying on the floor? You unplugged it. Remember that." It actually works pretty well.

Dr. Helen--and maybe David can speak to this too--have you ever watched the A&E show, Hoarders? If so, I'm wondering what you think of the organizers' (therapists?) general approach. To me, they seem so timid and everything's all about making the hoarder feel empowered and in control of the situation. I get that to some degree. But it often seems like the hoarders are just looking for an excuse to quit, and the soft approach gives them too much leeway. And many of them are already in control in at least one sense--they control the whole household with their behaviors. It just seems like a different approach would be more effective.

3:01 PM, November 10, 2009  
Blogger Helen said...

Ann Kerns,

I haven't seen that show so I can't comment on it, but a soft approach is not always the best. Sometimes, OCD behavior is used to control others, even unconsciously. There should be more boundaries in order to keep the OCD behavior itself from becoming a secondary gain.

4:04 AM, November 11, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ann Kerns:

The only thing I consistently can't forget in the mornings are my car keys. Like the AM EX card, I can't leave home without them. I still try though, a couple times a week.

For obvious reasons, I keep a spare front door key and ignition key in my wallet - although on the rare occasion I have walked out and locked the door behind me without my wallet OR car keys.

6:22 AM, November 11, 2009  

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