I was browsing in Popular Bookstore when I chanced across David Adam’s The Man Who Couldn’t Stop: OCD and the True Story of a Life Lost in Thought. It looked intriguing and I was just about to buy it before remembering a promise I made to a friend that I would check out the library before buying books (I have stacks of unread books at home).
Lo and behold, our extensive National Library stocked the book and I promptly borrowed it and finished it within a week.
The book is part memoir, part investigative research on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. You’d have probably heard of people describe themselves as having OCD but the truth of the matter is, it is not just a behavioural quirk, it is a very serious mental health issue that has proven to be very debilitating for the people involved.
I must admit, as I read the first half of the book, I got rather worried and slightly depressed because it seemed like I have some of the traits described by the author. Ever since I was a child, I have always avoided stepping on cracks while walking on the pavement. If I did step on a crack, I would have to step on a crack on the other foot to “balance” things out.
This is illogical and somewhat weird, which is probably why I’ve never told anyone about it. You can understand my concern as I read this book. However, I reasoned, as this did not seem to impair my life that much (some diagnosed spend up to 4 hours a day bathing to get rid of dirt), I figured I was alright.
What was very interesting was the last third of the book where the author outlined a wide variety of treatment methods. He first talked about the group therapy he attended in UK. The therapist employed elements of Cognitive-Behavoiral Therapy which had positive effects on the author. In addition, we learn about the effectiveness of exposure therapy and extinction decay. On top of that, he shares about how medicine seems to be able to control the condition and even touched on the touchy subject of lobotomy. Fascinating stuff.
The author seemed to have gotten better after several rounds of group therapy and the conclusion was pretty hopeful.
I’m sharing this book review because I would like to raise awareness of OCD. Depression and anxiety seems to have gotten much better press lately but sufferers of OCD is usually made fun of and the topic is treated with much levity because of how it’s manifested.
It’s not funny at all.
I would encourage everyone to get a copy of this book to find out more about OCD and if they spot symptoms in a loved one, to encourage their family member or friend to visit a psychiatrist to seek treatment. Click here to get it on Amazon, Book Depository or even Popular Bookstore if you’re living in Singapore.