There are many reasons why I love science. First and foremost is the power of good science to overcome suffering, stereotypes, and empower individuals.
I just started reading the book Brain Lock: Free Yourself From Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior by Jeffrey M.Schwartz, M.D, neuroscientist and researcher at the UCLA School of Medicine (I freaking love their Mindful Awareness Research Center where you can find free guided meditations). I was skeptical due to my pessimism at first, but the book had been recommended to me several times. And of course, UCLA School of Medicine screams of excellence in science and research. And then one day I walked into therapy and was a given a handout summarizing the four steps Dr.Schwartz outlines in his book.
So when the book finally made it’s way to me last week (I had it on reserve at the library), I was very excited to dive in and see what Dr.Schwartz had to offer me. I’ve only made it through the introduction and to page 16 and I already feel the need to blog about it 🙂
The book does a great job of capturing the menagerie of symptoms Dr.Schwartz has seen in his patients. I wince whenever I see the media comically featuring the classic, quirky, germaphobe or the neurotic character who has to have items arranged in a certain way. First of all, OCD is more than a personality quirk and it’s not enjoyable or funny. Second, although I have heard that contamination and symmetry/order/perfection themes are very common in OCD, it’s not the ONLY form of OCD. It’s not even close to what my OCD looks like . So when I try to share with a close friend or a loved one how OCD impacts me, I often get confused looks and comments that usually involve statements such as “But you don’t care about germs or washing or your hands or having everything arranged a certain way! Are you sure it’s OCD? Maybe you are just stressed.” Dr.Schwartz does an excellent job of sharing case studies that illustrate the many themes that OCD can take, including quite a few that are similar to my own personal demons. What a relief!
Now if only I could somehow motivate all of my loved ones who have to deal with my OCD to read the book, they might have some understanding of the many forms of OCD and would stop pointing out that I am nothing like Monk or David Beckham.