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Getting Control is a guide
in plain English for those wanting to end their obsessions and
compulsions. It explains what
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is, what it feels like, and what forms of
therapy tend to work best. It contains
a chapter on medications, but the main focus of the book is behavior
therapy. The fundamental message of the
book is that it is possible to get control of ones behavior, even though it is
far more difficult to change ones thoughts and feelings.
The book contains several lists of
questions for readers to tell whether they have OCD, Obsessive-Compulsive
Personality Disorder or related disorders, including trichotillomania (pulling
out ones head or body hairs) and skin picking. These questions cover a wide range of anxieties and fears,
include those abut self-harm, harming others, blurting out inappropriate words,
doing something embarrassing, stealing things, bodily waste or secretions,
dirt, germs, animals, illness, perverse or taboo sexual impulses, and losing
things. They also include questions
about feeling the need to hoard useless items, be symmetrical or exact, know or
remember certain things, wash oneself, clean household items, check that one
did not harm oneself or others, check that one did not make a mistake, reread
or rewrite things, repeat routine activities, perform counting or other mental
rituals compulsions, tell, ask or confess things, touch, tap or rub things, eat
food in certain ways, pull out ones hair, or carry out superstitious
actions. Given this wide range of
emotions and behaviors, it seems likely that most people have a slight tendency
to obsession or compulsion, and the book gives a helpful guide to understanding
how severe ones problem is.
In advising readers on how to deal
with their problems, Baer recommends working on one major symptom at a time,
setting realistic goals, and provides suggestions on how to go about getting control. He also provides guidance about how to
achieve long-term results and provides examples of how some of his patients
struggled and finally won in their battle with their disorder. He gives answers to many commonly-asked
questions concerning OCD and related disorders. The book ends with a useful chapter aimed at family, friends and
helpers of sufferers with a number of suggestions for how best to help.
Im not a clinician and I have not
(yet!) received any diagnosis or treatment for OCD, and so I cannot offer an
informed opinion about whether the suggestions offered in Getting Control are
helpful, although its worth noting that Baer is an Associate Professor of
Psychology in the Harvard Medical School Department of Psychiatry and Director
of Research at the OCD Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital and the OCD
Clinic at McLean Hospital. I can say
that the book is clearly written and sensibly structured. It might well be useful to people who
struggle with obsessions and compulsions.
© 2002 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.
Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island.
He is editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on
philosophical issues in psychiatry. He is especially interested in exploring
how philosophers can play a greater role in public life, and he is keen to help
foster communication between philosophers, mental health professionals, and the
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