The OCD Workbook

I can’t really review it until I’m done with it, so this is more like a partial review. Yesterday was my birthday, and one of my presents was the Third Edition of The OCD Workbook by Bruce M. Hyman and Cherry Pedrick. I picked it up to just skim through for ideas and tips, not really planning on actually buying it, but my husband ended up getting it for me. And now that I have it at home, I realize it’s probably a good thing because sometimes I over-estimate my strength in cognitive-behavioral therapy. It’s easy to get going and think “I’ve got this down now,” meanwhile problems start creeping in.

The book has a great general overview of OCD and related disorders, making it an excellent choice for family members to read and get a good grasp of what their loved ones with OCD might be going through. And it’s so important for loved ones to understand. It’s easy to be well-meaning and give bad advice because you’re thinking of what would work for you, not the person with OCD; sometimes I do the opposite, and offer advice that would be good for me and my OCD but horrible for a “normal” person.

I like that acknowledgement of “primarily obsessional” OCD is included. “Pure-O” may not truly be a thing, but “Primarily-O” should totally be.

And yeah, it is a workbook, so there are sections you fill in, like checking off your own symptoms and writing in personal history. There are also neat little inspirational quotes at the beginning of each chapter. I tend to be cynical, so I don’t like overly-phony-positive motivational quotes — but these are pretty reasonable.

It also looks like there’s a pretty thorough section about tips for taking medicine along with CBT, but I can’t say for sure if it’s good since I’ve never been on psychiatric medicine. Maybe someone else would be better qualified to review that part.

I really like the list of key cognitive errors of people with OCD. Recently there was a link going around on the internet about 50 common cognitive distortions which I also really liked, and that one is even more thorough and thought-provoking. But this one is good because it’s specific for people with OCD. There aren’t 50 here, so a lot of yours (or mine) might still be missing. I think my worst ones are: pessimistic bias; what-if thinking; intolerance of uncertainty; and over-estimating risk, harm, and danger. Intolerance of uncertainty seems to be what’s ultimately at the root of all OCD, though.

I’ve also realized how selfish my OCD fears are! It’s always about me. Maybe I’m going to get hurt, sick, contaminated, or maybe something bad is going to happen to me. I’m not one of those with OCD who worries constantly about the possibility of harming others. Then again, that could also be because somewhere deep inside me, there’s always at least a tiny awareness of the fear not being “real.” So maybe I only worry about myself because I subconsciously know the fear isn’t “real.” As a child I was deathly afraid of battery acid, but it was OK to get others to touch it for me, because on some level I probably knew it wouldn’t actually kill them — I just didn’t know how to get rid of that all-pervading anxiety. Now I realize I don’t have to — I just have to learn to acknowledge and live with the anxiety.

I’ll continue reviewing The OCD Workbook as I go through it. So far I like it, and it’s good to do first thing in the morning, and just before bed — when my obsessions seem most ready to pounce.

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