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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2001
I read Dr. Schwartz' book over 2 years ago while in the throes of a debilitating panic disorder fueled by OCD-like intrusive thoughts. Once the panic was under control (via meds) I started to search for a cognitive-behavioral treatment plan to control the obsessive thoughts. For years I tried to self-analyze the thoughts which amounted to pulling on one of those ropes which would further constrict the more you struggled. The panic disorder finally led me to a specialist who diagnosed both the panic and a mild form of OCD. I say mild since there are clearly OCD patients whose lives are extremely curtailed by the disorder such as incessant hand washing, fear of contamination, leaving the house, and so on. I'm fortunate not to suffer from this form of OCD, although I have experienced some agoraphobia, not uncommon with panic/OCD patients. As a result, I now understood that OCD (and panic) is nothing to be ashamed of and in fact is highly treatable due to recent, breakthrough advances in treating mental illness, medication being at the top of the list. Knowledge is power so no longer stigmatized, I was able to approach the problem as any other by looking for further research on treating the disorder and lucky for me, I came across the book "Brain Lock". "Brain Lock" demystifies OCD by attempting to explain the physiology behind the disorder. I am not medically trained but found the explanations plausible enough to continue on into the treatment phase. The most memorable, constantly reinforced phrase I recall from the book is that whenever you find yourself obsessing about an undesired thought, simply say to yourself "its not me its my OCD". Once that realization hits home, you shift ALL your focus to something else such as work, a good book, playing with your child, or anything activity that removes you from the obsessive "stuck in gear" pattern. It sounds simple but it DOES work. But you must work at it and the more acute the disorder the more difficult it is to shift control. That is where medication can be helpful as Dr. Schwartz points out. He doesn't really push meds put acknowledges it as a crutch to get the ball moving in the right direction. He claims that most, if not all his past patients at time of writing are off meds, using his 4-step, cognitive-behavioral process alone. That is remarkable! I have been on meds to control the panic but would probably go off it should the mild OCD be my only problem. Despite meds, I still run into occasional bouts with OCD but using Dr. Scwhartz's 4-step method, I am able to shift gears and move away from it quickly. As a result, I don't build up guilt and discomfort at having the thoughts in the first place since I don't give them time to fester as I had done in the past. "Its not me its my OCD". Again, Brain Lock is a great read for someone aware of having OCD and looking for a self-help method of controlling it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2004
This audiocassette saved my life! Well, sort of. Three years ago I experienced an especially painful & stressful bout with Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder (OCD). A loved one gave me the "Brain Lock" audio book, and helped put me on the road to recovery.
The authors have developed a simple yet ingenious "four step" routine to perform when obsessions or compulsions strike. First, recognize that the thoughts are OCD; second, re-attribute the thoughts to false impulses generated by the brain; third, refocus your behavior on any mildly productive activity; fourth, revalue OCD thoughts as "waste product" of the mind. Each of the four steps is discussed in detail, with just enough scientific background given to educate (without confusing) the listener. The routine sounds simple, but does take a while to master; it helps to listen to the tape two or three times through to reinforce the method.
Dr. Schwartz reads the book with a compassionate tone, and delivers the content in a personal and effective manner. (I also recommend the original book, which expands upon the content presented in the audio book).
OCD is serious business; I wouldn't recommend this tape as an alternative to professional treatment. But as a supplement to therapy, "Brain Lock" is invaluable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2000
I have suffered from OCD for several years now, mainly taking the form of onerous,repetitive intrusive thoughts. It's a nightmarish ordeal, and it hard's to find relief. The typical outlets: sharing with family and friends,invariably fall on deaf ears. Not because the family is unloving. Simply, because the whole process is uninteligible to them. Psychotropic Drugs, critical to many, is a hit and miss proposition to others. Given this backround, I found "Brain Lock", a god-send. Not only is it singularly insightful and reassuring, but it sucessfully defuses another impediment to treatment: That is the notion that because OCD is a biochemical process, a cognitive approach cannot effectively deal with it. The answer can be found, according to the author, in brain scans (shown in the book!) of the patients who use the author's techniques. They show a normalization of the brain function after the author's techniques are employed. This is not hocus-pocus.It seems, as I understand it, that the brain -a biochemical organ- is altered not just artificially by drugs, but cognitive methods which can affect chemical processes. [The following is my layman's explanation, not the author's]You change your perception of a situation, and you become less hysterical. The relaxation results in a lowering of your blood pressure goes down, less stomach acid being produced,less adrenaline being released to the system. So, by altering your perceptions of OCD not only is your attitude changed, but the brain chemistry involved in the production of OCD symptoms is positively affected. This is not the point of the book though. I venture that any effective psychological technique will therefore have a resultant psysiological effect. The key is the way in which the author changes your outlook of OCD itself.Using his clinical experience, it showed me that OCD is not a death sentence, but a manageable disorder that's not you, nor your life, but just another problem that's part of your life. And one disease that can be significantly altered by taking this approach. This book did more for me than my therapy and the drugs I was on. So it's not merely a book. This is a life saver. I'm not trying to sell this book- I'm just your run of the mill OCD'er, who would like to see another fellow sufferer helped. God bless.
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on March 8, 1998
I do not rate the book as perfect because nothing is perfect, but this book has given me the best understanding yet of this OCD nightmare.He has a wonderful analogy of a broken transmission and he says, all right, the transmission is bad but you can still shift gears, go ahead shift shift now.As for the content of the obsessions, he basically says to take on faith that your imagined terrors are not true. It's not me, you say to yourself, it's only my OCD. My thought, though it seems so real and frightening if I don't do the compulsion to neutralize it, is only a thought, and a mistaken one as that.Do another behavior, reevaluate, and move on.It's hard to do, but his analogy to the car alarm going off when the car is not being stolen makes it nearly possible to see this thing for what it is.The limitation is, how do you dismiss from your mind, maybe this one time alone it is being stolen.Anyway, this doctor is a fabulous writer and he understands the disorder all right.
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on October 30, 1999
I have Mild Tourettes, OCD, panic disorder and related symptoms. My Tics wax and wane and when I get a tic that really is annoying to me, like coughing, I apply the steps in this book to remove it. Most of the time I can limit the tic and remove it NATURALLY rather than take dangerous drugs. Everyone wants the easy drug way out but at what price? Drugs arent tested long enough to know the long term effects on kids or adults and I know I don't want to be a human guinea pig to doctors who get vacations for pushing a certain brand of drug to all of us so we can get addicted to it when they say we won' I am 100% for those who are coming out to help NATURALLY and you should be too....just say NO to drugs and support the ones who really care about us by buying their excellent natural treatment explained in their books!
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on April 14, 2001
Intrusive thoughts were ruining my life and terrifying me. They became so frightening and horrible, I sought out a therapist. Finding little to no relief and still not knowing what was wrong I turned to with the simple search "scarey thoughts". By shear luck, I selected this book. I know it sounds dramatic, but the book saved my life. I was losing ground at work, having panic attacks, and basically falling apart. Reading this book gave me the tools to overcome my problem. I cannot recommend this book enough. I honestly thought I was going insane before reading this book. I went on to read other books about Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, but this book was the best. It's quick and easy to read and spent a great deal of time on "Intrusive Thoughts" which other books simply pass over.
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on July 2, 1999
A friend gave me this book and it is excellent. If you have OCD or even a related disorder it gives you a practical approach to learning to deal with and outsmart your disorder.
Take me, frinstance, while I do not have any checking compulsions, I have suffered from anxiety disorder and occasionally intrusive, disturbing thoughts for a number of years. (Other than that I am your regular guy, you wouldn't know I had a disorder if you saw me). This book gives you a 4-step method of "reframing" OCD in a way that makes it manageable. Ultimately, the authors say, by using their method you can "retrain your brain" and actually alter your brain chemistry in a positive direction and thus reduce the original symptoms to something liveable.
Buy it (or have a friend give it to you...) :-)
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on July 21, 2000
There are almost no superlatives to describe what this book, and it's accompaning 4 step, self treatment method has already done in my life. I am just now getting the hang of applying the 4 steps to my own daily life, and people are noticing changes in my mood, my checking rituals, my tics [i have tourette's syndrome too] people that didn't even know I was reading this book have commented on the changes in my ocd/tourette's related behavior.
The Steps are incredibly easy to apply, as long as you apply yourself to them [this is where the hard work comes in] and it just plain makes sense that RELABELING a disorder and recognizing it for what it truly is relief in and of itself.
if Knowing is half the battle, this book is a blueprint for winning the WAR against OCD!
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on August 12, 1999
I have been suffering from a washing disorder from the past four years. Obsessions and compulsions have been running around for a while now. Though i think there is no better way to improve than medication, this book gives an insight into what the disease is all about and you realize that there are others like you. I have been trying out the 4 steps though i cannot say if that is the cause of improvement or medication. before reading this book i was on medication for 2 yrs and it got rid of my OCD completely(YES THERE IS A CURE!!) unfortunately it relapsed cause i stopped medication. for a serious OCD patient this book ONLY wont help but suplementing it with medication will help. Good luck. if any one wants to write to me regarding their problems please feel free to do so.
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on February 20, 2002
As a sufferer of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, I found "Brain Lock" to be extremely helpful in finding new ways to break the habits of OC behavior. My counselor Mark introduced me to the book. Not only is it a comfort to read (including some witty comic strips), but it doesn't stick to the standard and sometimes ineffective methods of curing OCD (i.e...just stop it). The book gives us examples of the many different kinds of these symptoms and in turn, shows us many ways to help ourselves. This workbook also has a subtle touch that challenges all those who claim OCD to be the "common cold" of psychiatry. I recommend "Brain Lock" to anyone with OCD, but also for those who are learning to become psychiatrists, counselors, etcetera.
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