Monday, February 8, 2010

OCD Toolbox: Freedom from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder by Jonathan Grayson

This book, Freedom From Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: A Personalized Recovery Program for Living with Uncertainty by Jonathan Grayson, was very important in moving me to get help for my OCD. I'd spent a lot of time reading about OCD, but assumed that because much of what I dealt with took place inside my head, rather than physical rituals, Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy wasn't really for me.

Grayson went right to the heart of this by identifying mental rituals, and describing how to write scripts that expose you to your "Pure O" fears, and learn to habituate to them, and live your life. He gets the "obsessing about obsessing" quicksand of the OCD mind. And even more importantly, he introduces the concept of learning to live with uncertainty. I recognized myself in his descriptions right away, a compelling desire to have absolute certainty that a feared consequence will not happen.

OCD makes a lot of demands for omniscient knowing, for complete understanding, for predicting the future and insisting that questions be answered that no human gets answered. It sucks to accept the reality of our tenuous existence, but Grayson points out that we tolerate uncertainty in many aspects of our lives, if it is not one of our OCD triggers. He has an example of how someone who has no fear of driving takes the risk of crashing their car just go see a movie. Last week, I thought of this example when I heard that some people I know from choir were in the hospital because they had a car accident on the way to see a movie.

We take risks everyday, but often we don't think about it, because life is in itself risky, and if we wish to experience the joys that life offers, we have to keep moving. On a bad OCD day, I really hate this revelation, because the OCD insists that I can have certainty of safety if I just ritualize, and it's hard to let go of the fantasy. But the fantasy is at the expense of having a life, a kind of living death.

Another Good Book:
Rewind, Replay, Repeat: A Memoir of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder


  1. That is a great book. It is one of my favorite. My bible book is Brain Lock, but Dr. Grayson is a genius when it comes to OCD.

  2. I stumbled across this blog and it has been extremely helpful. For YEARS I had no idea why I lived with so much mental and emotional pain, I haven't been officially diagnosed but I am pretty sure that I have an anxiety disorder and I believe that it is the "Pure O" type. As I continue to be patient with myself and gain more knowledge on my condition I now see a real light at the end of the tunnel...and not another mirage.



  3. Hi Patrice,
    I am so glad you came across the blog! I concur that you are seeing actual light at the end of the tunnel. It's taken a long time to really get a handle on my ocd, but the change is real, and the benefit of reclaiming my life is a blessing.