Monday, February 8, 2010

(Partially) Unhelpful Strategies for my OCD: Brain Lock

I read Jeffrey Schwartz's Brain Lock: Free Yourself from Obsessive Compulsive Behavior 8 or 9 years ago. I appreciated the author's understanding of that deep rooted dread that can come with an obsessive thought, and the urge to do a ritual to make it go away. Schwartz is a psychiatrist at UCLA, and a proponent of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. His method consists of four steps:
  • 1. Step 1: Relabel “It’s not me – it’s my OCD”
  • 2. Step 2: Reattribute “Unlocking Your Brain”
  • 3. Step 3: Refocus “Wishing Won’t Make It So”
  • 4. Step 4: Revalue “Lessons Learned from OCD”
Step 3 had the most value for me, in that refocusing meant acting against my ritual of freezing and doing nothing else but "figure out" my obsessive thoughts by actually doing something relevant to my life for 15 minutes. Unfortunately, the revaluing step was harder than it seemed. My OCD was very tenacious and good at constantly questioning whether what I was observing was actually OCD. It's like those Russian nesting dolls, one inside another, inside another, inside another.

Ultimately, part of what worked for me was using Grayson's method of listening to scripts I'd recorded of all that I was afraid of, while refocusing and doing things that I valued, and practicing my ability to live with uncertainty. Schwartz appears to expect that I can become very certain "It's not me, it's my OCD" when in fact the OCD continually questions this.


  1. I've had OCD for many, many years. I have had some improvements but probably the thing I struggle the most with is questioning whether or not the issue of the moment is "real" or OCD. This happens all the time.

    1. Yes, this is so frustrating! Part of my OCD is wanting to know 100% whether something is real or OCD, and that's not possible. The Exposure is to take my best guess. No one really knows more than "best guess" ~ and wanting to know ahead of time if something is "real" will pretty much ensure getting stuck in it.

  2. Exactly. I don't know if it's OCD all the time.😑