There are a lot of self help books out there. The market is saturated, and the quality varies tremendously. If you struggle with OCD, there are some good options, but here is my favorite: Freedom from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder by Jonathon Grayson, Ph.D.
The book focuses heavily on living with uncertainty. This focus is unique and accurately captures a core problem that folks with OCD (and many others!) struggle with. The author offers both a clear rationale for why accepting uncertainty is required for recovery, and concrete strategies for how to do that.
It is very clear that the author is a clinician who actually sees lots and lots of patients with OCD. I’ve met with hundreds of people with OCD, and as I read these books I think about how they would react to what is written. As I read this, I hear the author doing the same. He’s anticipating their “ya, but…”s, their head nods, their sometimes idiosyncratic fears, and the VERY WIDE RANGE of symptoms they struggle with. Some OCD books stick to the basic checkers and washers, and yet in real clinical work, we see a tremendous variability in content of obsessions and compulsions, though the process is often the same. It’s clear he really gets the OCD experience.
This book is filled with strategies that have been tested with solid scientific methods, and that tend to work for most people with this disorder. It’s meaty, dense, packed with information and strategies for getting better. And these strategies are grounded in research, in evidence. This is important. If you are struggling with OCD, go with the approach that has the best shot at helping.
If you struggle with OCD, check out this book. I bet it will resonate. If you need more help facing your OCD fears, I’d also be happy to talk with you.
There’s a duck on my table.
It’s art that belongs to the woman who owns the office suite. It’s playful, and even a little silly… I like it. It reminds me of thoughts, and the idea that we ought not to take them so seriously. They’re just thoughts afterall. Sometimes they’re helpful, sometimes they’re not. So hold them lightly. People who struggle with anxiety or OCD often look at the world through their thoughts. That can be trouble.
Psychologists have a term called “cognitive defusion,” strategies that provide more distance from thoughts, less attachment, less “fusion.” For example, someone with social anxiety might think after meeting someone new “She thinks I’m boring. I’m so boring!” If you are fused with those thoughts, you might then spend the next several minutes ruminating about your perceived social incompetence and how you’ll always be alone, etc. The mind can be very active when it weaves a story!
Let’s rewind and play that out differently. If you’re practicing cognitive defusion, try on a different approach. When the thought “she thinks I’m boring” pops up in your head, notice it as a thought. You don’t need to make it go away, and you don’t need to feed it either. Take a second to say to yourself “I notice that I’m having the thought that… she thinks I’m boring.” Say it again and really take it in.
Practice now. Say “She thinks I’m boring.” And then say “I notice that I’m having the thought that she thinks I’m boring.” Pay attention to the difference.
This is one of many tools to start to develop a different relationship with your thoughts, so they have less impact on the life you want to lead. If you want more help with this, a great book is Russ Harris’s Happiness Trap. I’m also happy to talk with you about treatment. I specialize in therapy for anxiety and OCD. You should know, though, that if you come to my office, you might notice a duck on my table.