I think this is a brilliant article and a brilliant way to give someone an effective tool to help free themselves from "a bossy brain bug giving them extra jobs for no good reason!" Yes, it's directed toward young patients - but even so, I think this could be an effective tool for adults, too. Read on.
BOOKS ON HEALTH; Help in Controlling a Frustrating Disorder
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By JOHN LANGONE
Published: November 20, 2001
''Freeing Your Child From Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder,'' by Dr. Tamar E. Chansky, Three Rivers Press, $14.95.
Parents may watch helplessly as a daughter puts on her socks for the 10th time, screaming all the while that her seams aren't straight. Suddenly, a son stops eating solid food because he fears choking on a bit of glass or a piece of string.
Or a child may retie his shoelaces until the loops are exactly the same, wash her hands or shower over and over again, sBort useless objects into fixed categories, refuse to hug her parents or incessantly count doors, floor tiles and windowpanes.
Children who behave this way don't want to. Nor are they staging a drama to annoy a parent. Such behavior falls under the rubric of obsessive-compulsive disorder, or O.C.D., an involuntary neurobiological condition that afflicts more than a million American children, many as young as 4. ''The brain gets stuck in gear,'' writes Dr. Tamar E. Chansky, the author of this survival guide, ''not allowing the mind to be rational, to be free, to believe what makes sense, for example, that washing 40 times a day will not ensure that no one dies.''
A psychologist who has treated hundreds of sufferers of this puzzling disorder, Dr. Chansky takes an optimistic view, arguing that although the prognosis has been generally grim, the disorder can be treated and managed through behavior therapy and medications.
Children, she believes, can learn to gain control over their symptoms and lead normal lives. To this end, she offers advice on talking to a child about a cycle of debilitating rituals: ''Face down the enemy, it doesn't deserve your time, you've got better things to do. Remember, it's just a brain hiccup -- you are smarter than it is, you know better.''
As Dr. Chansky sums it up: ''Bossing back is the foundation of cognitive-behavior therapy for helping young patients overcome this condition. The more they relabel O.C.D. as a bossy brain bug giving them extra jobs for no good reason, the faster the brain will learn to get unstuck and children will be back on track thinking and doing what they want.''
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