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30 review for Brain Lock: Free Yourself from Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior

  1. 5 out of 5

    Anya Weber

    I talked to my therapist recently about a troubling thought that had been in my head since junior high school. It was an irrational worry, but one that was extremely disturbing to me, and one that I'd never before been able to talk about or dismiss. "Oh, that's an obsessive thought," my shrink told me. "It's not a real thought. It just means your brain gets stuck in a loop sometimes. It's pretty common, and in your case it will be pretty easy to fix." This was fascinating and liberating, and got I talked to my therapist recently about a troubling thought that had been in my head since junior high school. It was an irrational worry, but one that was extremely disturbing to me, and one that I'd never before been able to talk about or dismiss. "Oh, that's an obsessive thought," my shrink told me. "It's not a real thought. It just means your brain gets stuck in a loop sometimes. It's pretty common, and in your case it will be pretty easy to fix." This was fascinating and liberating, and got me interested in learning more about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which thoughts like this are symptomatic of. Brain Lock is widely considered to be one of the best and most practical books about OCD. Its author, Dr. Jeffrey M. Schwartz, is a psychiatry professor at UCLA, and in this book he explains a four-step plan for self-treating this condition--which can range from the mildly annoying, to the completely debilitating. OCD is pretty unusual as a neurological issue. It's one of very few mental disorders that don't respond to placebos in scientific studies. Other neurological conditions, even potentially severe ones such as some forms of schizophrenia and depression, are affected by placebos; the act of being treated for the disease, in and of itself, helps cure the disease. With OCD, it's a different story. Placebos don't work, and meds, which they can be helpful in extreme cases, are not a cure either. It's really up to each patient to cure him- or herself. Schwartz includes tons of anecdotes in "Brain Lock" that are devastating, describing people whose entire lives have been blown apart by OCD. But the patients he writes about have also managed to get control of their symptoms. You don't ever cureOCD, but you can certainly minimize its effects in your life. Schwartz describes common symptoms of OCD, ones that are familiar to many people from the TV show "Monk" or other pop-cultural portrayals of the disorder. For example, I knew that excessive hand-washing was a common OCD action. Schwartz writes about a patient who washed so much that his hands would instantly lather when he ran water over them, even without applying soap. Another common OCD fixation is leaving the stove on or leaving an appliance plugged in. Schwartz describes a woman who could not make herself believe she'd unplugged the coffee machine--so she would carry it to work with her in a backpack. Schwartz's research shows that OCD sufferers can literally rewire our brains to weaken the effects of compulsions and obsessions. By using his four-step method, which is very simple and clearly defined, people can actually "unlock" the affected part of the brain so that it no longer triggers OCD reactions (or at least, triggers them much more mildly). This book is inspiring to anyone who experiences any level of obsessive or compulsive action or thought--in other words, just about everybody! And if I knew a friend or family member who was suffering from severe OCD, this book is the first weapon I'd hand them to help them fight back.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Critical Hysteria

    I touched the book three times then turned off the oven, again.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Julie Christine

    I don't quite know how to rate and review Brain Lock, but I'll give it the old college try. Please note that several f-bombs are laced throughout my review. Profanity feels really good when it comes to fighting back. I don't have OCD, but a friend who knows I struggle with claustrophobia and anxiety sent it along with a strong recommendation. And I'm oh-so-glad she did. On the surface, the treatment method for OCD outlined and explained in Brain Lock wouldn't seem to have much to do with treatin I don't quite know how to rate and review Brain Lock, but I'll give it the old college try. Please note that several f-bombs are laced throughout my review. Profanity feels really good when it comes to fighting back. I don't have OCD, but a friend who knows I struggle with claustrophobia and anxiety sent it along with a strong recommendation. And I'm oh-so-glad she did. On the surface, the treatment method for OCD outlined and explained in Brain Lock wouldn't seem to have much to do with treating phobias. Yet, what is a phobia but an obsessive, irrational fear of harmless or even unlikely circumstances? It's not even that, really. A phobia is the fear of losing control when faced with a particular circumstance. For me, it's getting a handle on the ridiculousness of claustrophobia that interferes with my love of travel; specifically, I fucking hate to fly. And, like, I've flown all over the world, north to south, east to west. I've had jobs predicated on the ability to travel all over, frequently, by small, steel tube with no access to fresh air for hours on end. I've been claustrophobic forever, but the flight thing just keeps getting worse. I never, ever get on an elevator, but for the most part I can work around that (recent surgery, I couldn't escape the elevator, but I was on a gurney with drugs in my system. That's how I roll). It's hard, however, to get to Vietnam, Chile, Morocco or Turkey - all places I intend to get to soon - without boarding a plane. Fuck this. I'm tired of carrying the burden of my own brain around. Enough. I love a plan. And now I have one. The first two pages of the journal I'm taking with me to France (YES! FUCK YES! I'M GETTING ON A FUCKING PLANE IN TWO WEEKS) are filled with notes from Brain Lock, including the Four Steps: RELABEL, REATTRIBUTE, REFOCUS, REVALUE. For years, I've Refocused, without even knowing I should be. When I feel a pre-take-off or mid-flight panic attack tickling the nether reaches of my brain, I pull out my book of NY Times Sunday crossword puzzles and get to work. It's hard to panic when you are trying to think of the nine-letter name for a canonized Norwegian king. But I never knew the power of anticipating and accepting that I WILL start to panic, that every fiber in me will be screaming ICANTICANTICANTICANT as I walk down the jetway or when the flight attendants close the doors and I know I am TRAPPED FOR HOURS AND I CAN'T GET OUT. There's power in knowing that horror is going to happen. Knowledge is power, because it puts me in control. The moment I read this thing, this thing about saying, "Oh, hey there, Brain. Yep, there you go, freaking out. What else is new? You've allowed in stupid obsessive thoughts, but sit down and STFU!" (Relabel & Reattribute) a light flickered on. No one ever told me I could say THAT to my brain. No one ever told me that the panic won't go away, but I don't have to DO anything about it. I don't have to try to stop it, I just don't have to ACT on it. I can carry on with the rest of my life (Refocus) and devalue the panic as worthless garbage (Revalue). This alone was worth the price of admission. I see other reviews suggesting that you skip right to the end of the book, where the four steps are explained in a handful of pages, but don't do that. It's really worth getting some background on OCD and relating it to your particular issues, even if it's not a disorder you possess. The case studies I skipped, as well as chapters on relationships to other disorders and living with a loved one who has OCD. I was also a bit taken aback by the frequent references to God. I wasn't expecting that from a behavior therapist. It's fine, really. I'm not a religious person, but I do my fair share of appealing to a higher power. It just caught me off guard. But I was glad to see the strong focus on mindfulness, the nuanced approach to medication (the goal being to alter your brain chemistry, thereby negating the need for medication), and the nods to meditation. I've found a couple of phobia-specific guided meditation practices that have been incredibly helpful and they will be loaded on my iPod, ready for action during that flight. I know I'll be fine. I've made this flight dozens of times. It's never easy, but once, long ago, it was, so I know the power to change my brain and gain control over these false messages is completely within my grasp. Forget the elevators, though. I'll walk.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Elee Langham

    This book was very helpful and I appreciate all of the information and tips. The only issues I had were: 1. I felt that some of this information is outdated, at least in terms of the complexities of OCD and linking a specific compulsion to a specific obsession is not always as cut and dry as he lays it out in the book (and, therefore, doesn’t provide information as to what to do when an obsession doesn’t result in a noticeable compulsion or how to keep from “refocusing” activities becoming compul This book was very helpful and I appreciate all of the information and tips. The only issues I had were: 1. I felt that some of this information is outdated, at least in terms of the complexities of OCD and linking a specific compulsion to a specific obsession is not always as cut and dry as he lays it out in the book (and, therefore, doesn’t provide information as to what to do when an obsession doesn’t result in a noticeable compulsion or how to keep from “refocusing” activities becoming compulsions in and of themselves). 2. Most of the examples in the book were very, very extreme cases. I wish he had also focused on cases that are still as frustrating and intrusive, but not as blatantly debilitating as the examples he chose. 3. He was often extremely redundant and I truly feel the book could have been about a quarter of the length, because no new information really popped up. His structuring was also odd – it seemed that he would just want to add in bits of people’s stories, but the stories or quotes didn’t necessarily correspond to what he was talking about at that moment. However, despite these issues, the information relayed is very useful.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Vonia

    Really, the only thing I have to say is that if you actually suffer from OCD, this book is not going to help you. Maybe if you have a minor form. Basically, Schwartz teaches you to "reframe" your thoughts. Wow. This is inexplicably, by far, the most popular title out there on self-help for OCD. It might have some information for loved ones to better understand what is going on, but it will not assist a sufferer. Any professional in the field or sufferer will tell you pretty much the same thing, Really, the only thing I have to say is that if you actually suffer from OCD, this book is not going to help you. Maybe if you have a minor form. Basically, Schwartz teaches you to "reframe" your thoughts. Wow. This is inexplicably, by far, the most popular title out there on self-help for OCD. It might have some information for loved ones to better understand what is going on, but it will not assist a sufferer. Any professional in the field or sufferer will tell you pretty much the same thing, that there isn't much substantial information here. A title I strongly recommend instead is Doctor Jonathan Grayson's "Freedom From Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Personalized Recovery Program for Conquering Your Fears and Managing Uncertain".

  6. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Pupo

    Brain Lock is a must read for anyone who has OCD and wants to combat it, or wants to learn about what OCD is and what people with OCD actually experience. The book is written by a doctor who has studied OCD for years, and features first hand accounts from many patients about their symptoms, treatment, and progress. The book is mainly centered around a four-step plan wherein a person with symptoms relabels, reattributes, refocuses, and revalues their symptoms on their own so that they can slowly Brain Lock is a must read for anyone who has OCD and wants to combat it, or wants to learn about what OCD is and what people with OCD actually experience. The book is written by a doctor who has studied OCD for years, and features first hand accounts from many patients about their symptoms, treatment, and progress. The book is mainly centered around a four-step plan wherein a person with symptoms relabels, reattributes, refocuses, and revalues their symptoms on their own so that they can slowly start to resist their obsessions and compulsions. Dr. Schwartz backs up this plan with research showing that, over time, these steps actually rewire one's brain, and effectively "cool off" parts of the brain that are "overheated" by OCD as demonstrated by brain scans. This same strategy can also be applied to fighting bad habits or impulse control urges. It's good advice for anyone, and the book can teach anyone a great deal about the science behind OCD, impulse control urges, and bad habits. Still, the book is incredibly repetitive. Some quotes and sentences from later on are directly copied from earlier in the book. The author hammers in his point about the four steps over and over. While the goal may have been to get the reader to internalize the steps, that reptition can make the book feel bloated, like it's trying to hit a word count. Still, it is worth reading if the topics discussed are things you want to learn about, and the advice is very good. I already see plenty of places where I can apply it in my own life, even as far as minor bad habits like procrastinating too much.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sassan

    As someone who suffers from OCD, I can say that this book helped change my life. I no longer take medication (and haven't for years) ever since reading this wonderful book and using the scientifically tested method of "relabel, reattribute, refocus, revalue". In fact, my symptoms have decreased by over 90%! While this book is for OCD, it can also be used for other related disorders, obsessions, and fixations. In fact, Dr. Schwartz shows that brain scans demonstrate by using this method, it helps As someone who suffers from OCD, I can say that this book helped change my life. I no longer take medication (and haven't for years) ever since reading this wonderful book and using the scientifically tested method of "relabel, reattribute, refocus, revalue". In fact, my symptoms have decreased by over 90%! While this book is for OCD, it can also be used for other related disorders, obsessions, and fixations. In fact, Dr. Schwartz shows that brain scans demonstrate by using this method, it helps facilitate neuroplasticity and brain change similar to the way that SSRIs work in the brain. A highly recommended read! :)

  8. 5 out of 5

    David

    I thought that the numerous case studies in this book, while helpful in an empirical sense, distracted from the main thrust of the book: attempting to curb and eventually minimize OCD symptoms. It was very easy to get distracted by the stories of the patients involved in the outpatient therapy at UCLA. the four step approach seems valuable, but I think the book would benefit from some brevity and focus.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    This book was a great text for OCD using cognitive behavioral therapy as the guide. By rigorously practicing the four R's, people who suffer from OCD can alter their brain chemistry and improve their "brain lock." This book was especially helpful in explaining the exact biological causes of OCD - routed in malfunctioning of the caudate nucleus and orbital cortex. In addition, if you suffer from a moderate form as I do, reading the examples in the book will actually make you thankful that you don This book was a great text for OCD using cognitive behavioral therapy as the guide. By rigorously practicing the four R's, people who suffer from OCD can alter their brain chemistry and improve their "brain lock." This book was especially helpful in explaining the exact biological causes of OCD - routed in malfunctioning of the caudate nucleus and orbital cortex. In addition, if you suffer from a moderate form as I do, reading the examples in the book will actually make you thankful that you don't have it on the same level as the patients in the UCLA program. My only slight qualm with the book was the frequent classification of medication as "waterwings." For some people who have very mild symptoms, CBT could very well be enough. But for a good amount of people, both medication and CBT are necessary to recover. OCD is really no different than diabetes. They are both due to biological causes. Would you deny a diabetic his medication and instead say that they should only lose weight and cut out sugar? Of course not. But by doing both together, they can recover.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Fausto Genao

    I was tempted to qualify it with three stars, but then I thought the information (in my P.V.) was actually, really good. And for people who suffer this disorder, it would be a flashlight in theirs dark and painful path. It´s something more common than smallpox, and I think is good for all people, know (even a few) about this topic. (Maybe a familiar, friend or even you, could be suffering OCD). The issues I found in the book were the constants repetitions, I know they are good to secure knowledge I was tempted to qualify it with three stars, but then I thought the information (in my P.V.) was actually, really good. And for people who suffer this disorder, it would be a flashlight in theirs dark and painful path. It´s something more common than smallpox, and I think is good for all people, know (even a few) about this topic. (Maybe a familiar, friend or even you, could be suffering OCD). The issues I found in the book were the constants repetitions, I know they are good to secure knowledge but God!, at one point feels like were there just for fill pages. And the book could be more practical (but actually the last pages summarize the whole steps in a very practical way). I think this book is useful in what is trying to achieve. Give tools to fight the OCD.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Danielle Connolly

    After reading this book, I realized I could do one of two things. I could continue to give into my obsessive urges OR I could accept the fact that the chemistry in my brain was off balance and work on changing it and start giving into my own urges. If the patients in this book can overcome Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, anyone can.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Karin

    Great book for people with ocd. Good explanation of the brain and how and where ocd occurs in the brain. Then 4 steps to overcoming (minimizing, not giving in to the compulsions) ocd. And yes, sometimes that means pills. However, their idea of 'free' is minimizing, handling the ocd. Does not mean ocd disappears for good. It means you can handle it in your life. Great book for people with ocd. Good explanation of the brain and how and where ocd occurs in the brain. Then 4 steps to overcoming (minimizing, not giving in to the compulsions) ocd. And yes, sometimes that means pills. However, their idea of 'free' is minimizing, handling the ocd. Does not mean ocd disappears for good. It means you can handle it in your life.

  13. 4 out of 5

    NinaB

    2.5* This was a book club read and I’m glad I read it. I am usually the skeptic Christian who isn’t quick to label or accept psychological problems. I think we are quick to excuse our sinful habits and behaviors as a mental issue, rather than something we are culpable of and responsible to change. This book, however, forced me look at certain mental problems as legitimate issues. Because we live in a fallen world, it is very possible that this fallenness influences our brain functions, whether fro 2.5* This was a book club read and I’m glad I read it. I am usually the skeptic Christian who isn’t quick to label or accept psychological problems. I think we are quick to excuse our sinful habits and behaviors as a mental issue, rather than something we are culpable of and responsible to change. This book, however, forced me look at certain mental problems as legitimate issues. Because we live in a fallen world, it is very possible that this fallenness influences our brain functions, whether from birth or bad habits. This doesn’t remove culpability nor the responsibility to change, just as I was born proud and need to fight it as long as I live. The reality, though, is there are people who struggle with nonsensical compulsions. As a Christian, it is my duty to show love and compassion to them. It’s good to be reminded of that again. I have to point out that it is important for the Christian struggling with OCD to evaluate Dr. Schwartz’s methods with biblical lens. I suggest that, in addition to the helpful tips to overcome obsessive compulsions outlined in this book, struggling Christians should seek out Dr. Hodges seminar on the topic that you can find here: https://ibcd.org/thinking-biblically-... The reason I didn’t rate this higher is because it’s quite repetitive and I found his methodology, though may be helpful, lacking. He put too much blame on the brain as if the OCD is caused by a deformed or malfunctioning brain only. There has always been a debate when neuroscientists find a brain deformity among patients with “abnormal” behavior, whether the behavior is the cause or the result of the deformity or malfunction of the brain. It is hard to know which came first. However, our responsibility to change bad habits and to overcome sinful thinking still rely on us, whatever the cause. As a Christian, I believe there isn’t going to be true healing and victory from OCD until one surrenders himself/herself to Christ and His power to change us from the inside out.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    It’s amazing that this is the first book that comes up when researching OCD self help, or that people without OCD often feel qualified to recommend it. When I first realized I had OCD last December, this was the first book I found. And wow, did it feel like a miracle. It promised to help me with just four steps, and as I read, included phrases like “It’s not me, it’s my OCD.” That was a relief at first. I quickly found myself unable to master this method. Was I doing it wrong? My thoughts weren’t It’s amazing that this is the first book that comes up when researching OCD self help, or that people without OCD often feel qualified to recommend it. When I first realized I had OCD last December, this was the first book I found. And wow, did it feel like a miracle. It promised to help me with just four steps, and as I read, included phrases like “It’s not me, it’s my OCD.” That was a relief at first. I quickly found myself unable to master this method. Was I doing it wrong? My thoughts weren’t going away. I kept at it, refocusing and combing it with bits of self-made exposure and response prevention therapy (the latter is the actual evidence-based treatment for OCD). Uh...it didn’t work. OCD will turn anything into a compulsion - and chances are if saying, “It’s not me, it’s my OCD” makes you feel better, it’s a compulsion. Eventually, like many people, I found myself saying: “What if it’s not my OCD? What if it’s just me?” I got better through medication and ERP, after months of struggling alone. Do that first, before you try this book. In fact, skip this one altogether.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Leanne

    My sister recommended this book to me when I was first struggling with panic attacks. It frustrated me because it wasn't my issue. I felt like Schwartz kept repeating himself and that his writing was boring. Again, my frustration may simply be that I was looking for help, and it didn't apply to what I was struggling with. My sister recommended this book to me when I was first struggling with panic attacks. It frustrated me because it wasn't my issue. I felt like Schwartz kept repeating himself and that his writing was boring. Again, my frustration may simply be that I was looking for help, and it didn't apply to what I was struggling with.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ani

    Overall, I thought it was helpful, but I didn't like the view of medication and it being a short term crutch. It works well for a lot of people and I think we need to recognize the long term value of it. Definitely will come back to this book and the methods in it. OCD is the friggin worst. Overall, I thought it was helpful, but I didn't like the view of medication and it being a short term crutch. It works well for a lot of people and I think we need to recognize the long term value of it. Definitely will come back to this book and the methods in it. OCD is the friggin worst.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sonnigirl

    Great practical advice on how to control OCD thoughts

  18. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    This is the quintessential book on therapy for OCD. But, even if you do not suffer from OCD, this book is valuable in that Schwartz takes a refreshingly non-materialist view of medicine and the human body. He has no qualms that basis of his therapy assumes that people have a physical brain and an immaterial mind. People with OCD have a perfectly healthy mind but a malfunctioning brain, which is how they are able to look at their compulsions and know full well that the compulsive action does not This is the quintessential book on therapy for OCD. But, even if you do not suffer from OCD, this book is valuable in that Schwartz takes a refreshingly non-materialist view of medicine and the human body. He has no qualms that basis of his therapy assumes that people have a physical brain and an immaterial mind. People with OCD have a perfectly healthy mind but a malfunctioning brain, which is how they are able to look at their compulsions and know full well that the compulsive action does not actually solve the obsessive fear. Additionally, even though Schwartz's method is predicated on the fact that the brain is malfunctioning, he is not a determinist. He assumes that the mind can change the brain, and provides compelling fMRI data to back up this assumption.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tawnya

    Maybe people with severe OCD need things to be repeated to them several times, but I struggled with this book. The first half of the book was incredibly simple and repetitive, and then again it was all repeated in the last chapter. If I were to read this again, I'd skip the entire first half of this book. The parts that were medical explanations were difficult to understand as they weren't written in layman's terms. Or perhaps it was just me and an understanding of the brain's inner working is c Maybe people with severe OCD need things to be repeated to them several times, but I struggled with this book. The first half of the book was incredibly simple and repetitive, and then again it was all repeated in the last chapter. If I were to read this again, I'd skip the entire first half of this book. The parts that were medical explanations were difficult to understand as they weren't written in layman's terms. Or perhaps it was just me and an understanding of the brain's inner working is common knowledge. I also had a hard time with the religious aspect. The character studies in the last half of the book were very interesting and I do feel like I understand OCD better.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Michael

    It shook me up in a good way that's hard to describe other than being told the way you think about yourself as a diseased person is just wrong. "It's not you, it's your brain' became a mantra. I think it's a balanced theorethical and practical approach to getting around the hairy brain of someone diagnosed with OCD. I was for a few months in which I realized that my OCD was just my state in life and my approach to my practical problems ( like figuring out what to do with myself, who am I, what a It shook me up in a good way that's hard to describe other than being told the way you think about yourself as a diseased person is just wrong. "It's not you, it's your brain' became a mantra. I think it's a balanced theorethical and practical approach to getting around the hairy brain of someone diagnosed with OCD. I was for a few months in which I realized that my OCD was just my state in life and my approach to my practical problems ( like figuring out what to do with myself, who am I, what am I here for). This book was a new breath of life that made it easier to cope with my condition and take practical steps in helping myself. It will push you do it. It's convincing.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Elinor

    This book changed my life very positively. It was very difficult at first, in fact I spent several weeks trying to muster the courage to actually ACT, and I started with very minor assignments using the 4 step technique described in “Brain Lock”. I am not saying using this technique is easy, because it requires steely determination and a virtual zero tolerance towards OCD thoughts and behaviours. It is effective though once you get the hang of it. “Freedom from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” is t This book changed my life very positively. It was very difficult at first, in fact I spent several weeks trying to muster the courage to actually ACT, and I started with very minor assignments using the 4 step technique described in “Brain Lock”. I am not saying using this technique is easy, because it requires steely determination and a virtual zero tolerance towards OCD thoughts and behaviours. It is effective though once you get the hang of it. “Freedom from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” is the only other book I would recommend in this field. It is more laboured though and has a less direct approach on getting a hold on OCD.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Todd Price

    An outstanding book that has proven very helpful for me in dealing with OCD. I highly recommend it, not only for reading, but for rereading. I've read it three times and highlighted extensively and plan to review the highlights on occasion using the Kindle flashcard option. An outstanding book that has proven very helpful for me in dealing with OCD. I highly recommend it, not only for reading, but for rereading. I've read it three times and highlighted extensively and plan to review the highlight An outstanding book that has proven very helpful for me in dealing with OCD. I highly recommend it, not only for reading, but for rereading. I've read it three times and highlighted extensively and plan to review the highlights on occasion using the Kindle flashcard option. An outstanding book that has proven very helpful for me in dealing with OCD. I highly recommend it, not only for reading, but for rereading. I've read it three times and highlighted extensively and plan to review the highlights on occasion using the Kindle flashcard option.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    This book. It saved me and how I view myself. No joke... if you are struggling with OCD and need to get a grasp on the problem- grab this book and dig in. Not only does it give the 4 practical steps on how to overcome OCD, but even more important, it showed me that I’m not alone and what I’m going through is a true brain disfunction. My genuine gratitude to the author for publishing this life altering book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mackenzie

    Being Obsessive-Compulsive, I was recommended this book from a friend. I found it very interesting and applicable. However, I'm VERY GRATEFUL my life isn't as bad as the examples in the book! So, if anything, it's been a blessing to realize it could be much worse! Being Obsessive-Compulsive, I was recommended this book from a friend. I found it very interesting and applicable. However, I'm VERY GRATEFUL my life isn't as bad as the examples in the book! So, if anything, it's been a blessing to realize it could be much worse!

  25. 4 out of 5

    CJ Connor

    Probably the book that has singlehandedly changed my life the most. Would recommend for anyone with OCD or intrusive thoughts. I try to re-read or at least skim it once a year (which I suppose you could argue could become a compulsion itself... oh, well).

  26. 5 out of 5

    Theresa

    Interesting book about the organic origins of OCD

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sieran

    What a lovely book! A good friend recommended this to me and it was an insightful look at OCD. I definitely understand the condition much more than I did before. I also appreciated how the author distinguished between obsessive-compulsive disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. When people colloquially say that they are very OCD, they actually mean they have traits of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), a tendency to demand order and exactitude, where this tendency What a lovely book! A good friend recommended this to me and it was an insightful look at OCD. I definitely understand the condition much more than I did before. I also appreciated how the author distinguished between obsessive-compulsive disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. When people colloquially say that they are very OCD, they actually mean they have traits of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), a tendency to demand order and exactitude, where this tendency does not bother them. The four steps were a good way to organize the strategies. I like the idea of separating OCD thoughts and urges from the person’s real thoughts and urges. Most people seem to assume that whatever they think and feel, must be their own thoughts and emotions, and therefore must be related to their morality and goodness as a person. So it was beneficial to emphasize that the inappropriate and even harmful obsessions and compulsions do not reflect who you are deep inside. (E.g. What would someone with obsessive thoughts of killing others think of themselves?) In fact, this philosophy of differentiating biochemically dysfunctional thoughts and urges, from authentic thoughts and desires of the person, could be helpful for people with certain sexual paraphilias. Giving people the reassurance that, ultimately, you can control your actions, is very empowering. (Just to be completely clear, I am NOT saying that OCD has anything to do with sexual paraphilias. I’m just saying that the idea of separating inappropriate thoughts and feelings from the person you are deep inside, would be helpful for people with certain paraphilias too. The author noted that the Four Steps are beneficial for other impulsive control disorders as well.) Speaking of impulse control, I noticed that Brain Lock seems to talk more about compulsions than about obsessions, though there are notes here and there specifically for obsessions. The mini manual at the back of the book was a great way to summarize and remind us of the book’s main content. Brain Lock’s central philosophy about freeing yourself from your thoughts and urges, so that you act the way you truly want to, reminds me of ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy). I quite like this philosophy. Yes, we acknowledge that these thoughts, emotions, and urges exist, but we also recognize that we can choose not to act on these thoughts and feelings. Ultimately, we can control our actions. This is not the same as the “Just do it” or the “Just get over it” attitudes, which lack empathy. Instead, ACT and Brain Lock compassionately accept the existence of these psychological barriers, but teach us to become okay with discomfort, and to act according to our personal principles and values, rather than being subservient to any self-defeating feelings or thoughts. I love this “feel the fear and do it anyway” attitude! The case examples in the book were illuminating and informative too. I loved the part describing how family members and partners can help (or hinder) the person with OCD. In addition, I liked the insight that some people hold onto their OCD for a secondary reason, e.g. to exert power over a spouse who is otherwise the dominant partner in the relationship. Also, it was good to know that the “form” of OCD may be similar (e.g. same brain chemistry involved), but the “content” may differ due to the person’s own background history. (Content as in checking vs cleaning compulsions, for instance.) About the neurochemical side of things, the brief lesson on the altered brain regions in OCD was beneficial. I especially liked the point that your brain may tell you that “something is wrong,” but actually, nothing is wrong, it’s just the brain’s error-detection system not working properly. This makes me wonder how much we can trust our “something is wrong” gut feelings anymore—or maybe this is an excessive concern. Maybe people with anxiety disorders have an overactive and inaccurate brain error-detection system, but does that mean that all our gut feelings are untrustworthy? Surely, our intuition/ instinct/ sixth sense isn’t erroneous 100% of the time! Still, this is interesting to think about. A wonderful book. As a person without OCD, I feel that if folks with OCD can overcome their strong compulsions and act the way they truly want to, then I should definitely be able to put aside any impulses (e.g. to check Facebook during unnecessary times), and do what I really want to do in the moment. Just remember not to be too harsh on yourself if you slip.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Landon

    Schwartz offers an excellent 'teach yourself' course on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Obsessional-Compulsion based OCD. However, I have two grave concerns with the book: -The 4 step program (specifically step 3) is inherently designed only to remedy Obsession-Compulsion based OCD, where there is an obsession followed by a corresponding compulsive urge. The book and the 4 step program offers absolutely no remedy for Purely Obsessional OCD, also called Pure O. Inexplicably, Schwartz has omitted Schwartz offers an excellent 'teach yourself' course on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Obsessional-Compulsion based OCD. However, I have two grave concerns with the book: -The 4 step program (specifically step 3) is inherently designed only to remedy Obsession-Compulsion based OCD, where there is an obsession followed by a corresponding compulsive urge. The book and the 4 step program offers absolutely no remedy for Purely Obsessional OCD, also called Pure O. Inexplicably, Schwartz has omitted to offer any attempt at a solution for, let alone even discuss, Purely Obsessional based OCD symptoms. I am truly shocked given Schwartz' position as a leading researcher in this field, and this being the leading book on this topic. In this sense, I would consider this book to be an incomplete material for OCD treatment. -To further this, if a suffer of Purely Obsessional OCD were to implement the four-step program, I would argue that Step 3 could possibly exacerbate the purely obsessional symptoms that they experience. Of course, in cases of Pure O, avoidance of the obsessional thought will only lead to increased anxiety with OCD strengthening its grip on you. By adopting what is essentially a 'distract myself from my OCD' mentality that is recommended by Step 3, it creates the possibility of increasing the strength of the Pure O symptoms. To illustrate this, consider an individual with sexual based Pure O, where they have repetitive intrusive thoughts of a sexual nature about family members. There is no corresponding compulsions in this case, just an intrusive, obsessional thought. The patient follows step 3 and attempts to distract themselves from their intrusive thoughts. This, of course, is a recipe for disaster and will only lead to increased symptoms. I would thus argue that the book is not only incomplete, but also may be dangerous if the approach recommended by Step-3 is adopted by someone with Purely Obsessional OCD. Despite my above concerns, I believe the book is an excellent source regarding Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for obsessions with corresponding compulsions. I give it four stars given its utility for Obsession-Compulsion based OCD treatment.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Aleksandrina

    That book showed me one more time that psychiatry is a hocus-pocus... It is written as a crime against science and all scientific values. Not to mention it is actually hundrets of pages of endless repetition: 'It's not me it's my OCD'. Basically the 'knowledge' might have taken no more than 4 pages in an article, it really would have been more than enough for the ideas of the author. All the rest of the bulk of the book is about how great they are at UCLA... And from what I had the unpleasantnes That book showed me one more time that psychiatry is a hocus-pocus... It is written as a crime against science and all scientific values. Not to mention it is actually hundrets of pages of endless repetition: 'It's not me it's my OCD'. Basically the 'knowledge' might have taken no more than 4 pages in an article, it really would have been more than enough for the ideas of the author. All the rest of the bulk of the book is about how great they are at UCLA... And from what I had the unpleasantness to read, they are actually not so great, sorry to be the one to give the bad news. All the evidence for the theory is based on some random pet scans they did at UCLA. According to those scans particular parts of the brain are very active in people with OCD. After the magical treatment those lucky patients get at UCLA, the parts of the brain get much less active. And that is the proof that OCD is a brain issue, and that you can change your brain via therapy (of course only the therapy they can provide you in UCLA!). But those pet scans don't prove anything - brain activity in those particular parts may not be the REASON behind OCD, but simply the EFFECT of the OCD. You need much much more research and work before you can so irresponsibly say you have made a scientific discovery... Apart from that the book is full with the stories of the patients they have had at UCLA, which are told more like funny anecdotes than they are told like the stories of people with a problem, which really annoyed me a lot. And as if all that was not enough at one point the author gets into religion, which just blew my mind... "God can certainly tell the difference between what is in your heart and is real and what is just a false message coming form your brain." I guess that's just as scientific as psychiatry can get...

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Wilson

    Amazing life changing book and a great help with my OCD a friend leant me this just before I spent £900 on 12 weeks of privet therapy when I was very ill and had been on nhs waiting list for 3 years. The therapist was amazing I couldn’t have asked for better I actually really enjoyed our time together and I would go back if I took a bad turn again but to be honest I pretty much learnt enough from this book. It obviously hasn’t “cured” my OCD I’ll never be ‘cured’ but Iv honestly not been sufferi Amazing life changing book and a great help with my OCD a friend leant me this just before I spent £900 on 12 weeks of privet therapy when I was very ill and had been on nhs waiting list for 3 years. The therapist was amazing I couldn’t have asked for better I actually really enjoyed our time together and I would go back if I took a bad turn again but to be honest I pretty much learnt enough from this book. It obviously hasn’t “cured” my OCD I’ll never be ‘cured’ but Iv honestly not been suffering so I’d say between the book and therapy I’ve been living pretty much anxiety free (as anxiety free as as I think I’ll ever achieve) for over a year. I now have this on Audible and re listen to it regularly. I suffer from violent intrusive thoughts Pure ‘O’ and this book does not cover Pure ‘O’ but I do still find it a very beneficial read. Some of my previous anxieties that now don’t bother me are holding sharp objects around my children, being a passenger in a car. Carrying my kids up the stair. Walking by any semi busy road. Crossing roads. Locking doors for intruders. Thinking i may have put pets in washing machine, oven etc. Getting husband to check I hadn’t killed the kids in my sleep or any intruders killed or taken them. Terrified I may sleep walk and hurt my family even though Iv never sleep walked. Scared to leave my children with family members incase they don’t take due care with my kids and mental flashes of awful things happening to my children. Iv suffered quite badly since age 7-8 and had constant counselling since age 8 through to 16 when I was dropped by the NHS. I never told a single person what was really in my head until I had my 1st child and was fearful I wasnt a fit mother. For me not to feel mentally ill and afraid of myself is life changing. If you are suffering from OCD read this book.

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