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Brain Lock: Free Yourself From Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior (1997)

Brain Lock: Free Yourself from Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior (1997)
3.96 of 5 Votes: 2
0060987111 (ISBN13: 9780060987114)
harper perennial
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Brain Lock: Free Yourself From Obsess...
Brain Lock: Free Yourself From Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior (1997)

About book: I don't quite know how to rate and review Brain Lock, but I'll give it the old college try. Please note that several f-bombs are laced throughout my review. Profanity feels really good when it comes to fighting back. I don't have OCD, but a friend who knows I struggle with claustrophobia and anxiety sent it along with a strong recommendation. And I'm oh-so-glad she did. On the surface, the treatment method for OCD outlined and explained in Brain Lock wouldn't seem to have much to do with treating phobias. Yet, what is a phobia but an obsessive, irrational fear of harmless or even unlikely circumstances? It's not even that, really. A phobia is the fear of losing control when faced with a particular circumstance. For me, it's getting a handle on the ridiculousness of claustrophobia that interferes with my love of travel; specifically, I fucking hate to fly. And, like, I've flown all over the world, north to south, east to west. I've had jobs predicated on the ability to travel all over, frequently, by small, steel tube with no access to fresh air for hours on end. I've been claustrophobic forever, but the flight thing just keeps getting worse. I never, ever get on an elevator, but for the most part I can work around that (recent surgery, I couldn't escape the elevator, but I was on a gurney with drugs in my system. That's how I roll). It's hard, however, to get to Vietnam, Chile, Morocco or Turkey - all places I intend to get to soon - without boarding a plane. Fuck this. I'm tired of carrying the burden of my own brain around. Enough. I love a plan. And now I have one. The first two pages of the journal I'm taking with me to France (YES! FUCK YES! I'M GETTING ON A FUCKING PLANE IN TWO WEEKS) are filled with notes from Brain Lock, including the Four Steps: RELABEL, REATTRIBUTE, REFOCUS, REVALUE. For years, I've Refocused, without even knowing I should be. When I feel a pre-take-off or mid-flight panic attack tickling the nether reaches of my brain, I pull out my book of NY Times Sunday crossword puzzles and get to work. It's hard to panic when you are trying to think of the nine-letter name for a canonized Norwegian king. But I never knew the power of anticipating and accepting that I WILL start to panic, that every fiber in me will be screaming ICANTICANTICANTICANT as I walk down the jetway or when the flight attendants close the doors and I know I am TRAPPED FOR HOURS AND I CAN'T GET OUT. There's power in knowing that horror is going to happen. Knowledge is power, because it puts me in control. The moment I read this thing, this thing about saying, "Oh, hey there, Brain. Yep, there you go, freaking out. What else is new? You've allowed in stupid obsessive thoughts, but sit down and STFU!" (Relabel & Reattribute) a light flickered on. No one ever told me I could say THAT to my brain. No one ever told me that the panic won't go away, but I don't have to DO anything about it. I don't have to try to stop it, I just don't have to ACT on it. I can carry on with the rest of my life (Refocus) and devalue the panic as worthless garbage (Revalue). This alone was worth the price of admission. I see other reviews suggesting that you skip right to the end of the book, where the four steps are explained in a handful of pages, but don't do that. It's really worth getting some background on OCD and relating it to your particular issues, even if it's not a disorder you possess. The case studies I skipped, as well as chapters on relationships to other disorders and living with a loved one who has OCD. I was also a bit taken aback by the frequent references to God. I wasn't expecting that from a behavior therapist. It's fine, really. I'm not a religious person, but I do my fair share of appealing to a higher power. It just caught me off guard. But I was glad to see the strong focus on mindfulness, the nuanced approach to medication (the goal being to alter your brain chemistry, thereby negating the need for medication), and the nods to meditation. I've found a couple of phobia-specific guided meditation practices that have been incredibly helpful and they will be loaded on my iPod, ready for action during that flight. I know I'll be fine. I've made this flight dozens of times. It's never easy, but once, long ago, it was, so I know the power to change my brain and gain control over these false messages is completely within my grasp.Forget the elevators, though. I'll walk.

Thorough. It takes some sweat to get the book to express its maximum value -- but such is the nature of the beast, I suppose.Some of the ideas are belabored in repetition, but I think the slight restatements and variations are helpful, since the OCD plagued may chafe at one description but may feel another one is a life raft (where the author or another reader thought both unremarkably synonymous). E.g.: one of the mantras is "it's not me, it's my OCD!" This is repeated ad nauseam. Near the end of the book, though, in a chapter dedicated to another issue, the partner of a woman with OCD described it as "not something she was doing, but something that was happening to her, and she was in pain." I think this is the feeling Schwartz hopes to trigger with "it's not me, it's my OCD." But to me only one of these sounds helpful.It's all semantics, sure. But there's a chasm of mental power in those semantic differences.
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I read this book because I have a child with OCD. It contains a very simple method for coping with OCD and training your brain how to come 'unstuck' once it gets locked on some obsession or compulsion. I particularly liked the frequent real life stories and experiences -- although I found it quite distressing to hear how terrible life can get with undiagnosed and/or untreated serious OCD. I would recommend this to any family member dealing with OCD -- whether it is your own personal struggle or that of someone you love.
Really, the only thing I have to say is that if you actually suffer from OCD, this book is not going to help you. Maybe if you have a minor form. Basically, Schwartz teaches you to "reframe" your thoughts. Wow. This is inexplicably, by far, the most popular title out there on self-help for OCD. It might have some information for loved ones to better understand what is going on, but it will not assist a sufferer. Any professional in the field or sufferer will tell you pretty much the same thing, that there isn't much substantial information here. A title I strongly recommend instead is Doctor Jonathan Grayson's "Freedom From Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Personalized Recovery Program for Conquering Your Fears and Managing Uncertain".
This is a book about treating Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior Disorder (OCD). It explains the disorder in-depth, giving many case studies of people suffering from the disorder. It explains how OCD is a biochemical imbalance and provides a Four Step Strategy in overcoming your obsessions and compulsions. I have always been interested in OCD. This book really opened my eyes about the disorder. The things I thought I knew about OCD were not all factual. This is a much more depressing disorder than I could ever imagined. People suffering from OCD are miserable - their lives are controlled by their obsessions and compulsions. It was intriguing to learn about OCD. It would be wonderful for everyone to be educated on this disorder - the more understanding there is about mental illnesses, the more people will receive the treatments and help they need.
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