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on 1 January 2003
This book is a god send. A book is based on the authors wondefull work, and he has defied many of the scientists, stuck in the old, tired conventions, by scientifically proving that your mind can change your brain chemistry, if directed properly. The technique which he has developed, and spells out in this book, a god send for OCD sufferers like me, is fantastic.
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on 10 April 2005
Before I got this book I was very depressed and felt like OCD was making me crazy. I was in therapy at the time but this book was what helped me the most. Dr Schwartz breaks down the treatment and helps you get your head around it. With the help he provides I now feel I am on the road to recovery and feel alot better about myself. I'd advise anyone who thinks they suffer from OCD to get this book and don't delay!
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on 16 August 2010
I had suffered from multiple varieties of OCDs, to a point that my symptoms started to fit a whole spectrum of mental disorders. My OCD varied, among them, was compulsive writing - capturing and trapping thoughts. Anything depressing, exciting, emotional, gets written. For over a decade, my computer filled up with megabytes of raw consciousness text, post-it notes everywhere you look, full notebooks written in an undecipherable mind nonsense. It took over my life, I couldn't function, I couldn't let it go because everything seemed important.

I read the introduction, beginnings and ends of all sections. I finished reading it, went to sleep. Prior to that, I made a decision, it was that simple. If you want to change your life, do it immediately.

The 4 steps described in this book may seem like some kind of doctrine you feel is being imposed on you. It may seem patronising. However, these 4 steps have been derrived from intensive studies. They are the simplified formula given to you in its most optimised form, like an optimised computer algorithm.

Temperature of the underside of your frontal lobes is higher than those without these mental disorders. It is a neurological disorder which affected you psychologically. Change the cause of the problem - cognitively (thoughtfully) treat your mind, you are in control of re-engineering the filters in your thought processes. You attack the problem cognitively, you follow the correct thought process, and voila, from within, it manifests in a perfectly healthy brain.

The reason you've failed so far (and I assume you have since you are seeking help) is because you relied solely on yourself to cure this problem. For me, it was so satisfying to read that other people experience this monsterous disease, it only confirmed what I (and you) already knew. That it has to stop.

If you have a system, a plan, a good and tested plan, you will succeed, overnight!

You may feel like a robot because of the requirement for a system. However, it works transparently for me. The brain fixed itself, but it first had to recognise these 4 steps (and I think the first step in this book is the most important step of all). It then slips into your subconscious, you will feel fantastic.

You've suffered enough. Your extra sensory perception is probably heightened compared with "normal" people. Use it now, enjoy it.

Today, I am free.

Understand that by recognising that it's a disease, the second the obsessive thought creeps in, do not let it lead you to do your ritual (obsession). First step is "relabelling" - that is, identifying the disease from the real thing. It is easy once you realise the best person to reason with is yourself, and it's seamless. Quickly identify if the thought is as a result of your disease, don't give it the time of day. Refocus!!! The books says try another task for 15 minutes. I have progressed by carrying on doing what I was doing. At first, after you've beaten one or two OCD thoughts, you will look back at it 5 minutes later and you will have an epiphany (or perhaps you knew all along) that it was a disease.

RELABEL, REATTRIBUTE, REFOCUS and REVALUE (or rather, DEVALUE that useless garbage you've been suffering from).

I am 100% convinced you can do it. I did it. Get the book if you want if you're not convinced by me.

IDENTIFY IT and REFOCUS!

Good Luck (just follow the bloody steps!)
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on 23 September 2000
WHAT A FABULOUS BOOK! This book really has helped me so drastically. I have had OCD symptoms for a good 26 years, and they have been getting progressively worse. Many times I have felt desperate, suicidal and as if I was literally going mad. I tried clinical psychologists and counsellers but they tended to advocate very time consuming and confusing therapies, not to mention the fact that they blamed my OCD on my poor Dad. When I got this book, I was at my wits end. OCD has ruined every aspect of my life. Jeffrey Schwartz's book showed me that (1) OCD is a genuine medical problem, as opposed to something you have only if you're "nuerotic" - which is how some people view me. (2) It accounts for many other personality problems I have that no-one else EVER connected with OCD (which gave me such hope that my whole life can be changed through therapy) and (3) That there is hope and that recovery is indeed something you can do yourself, without being bogged down by ridiculously complex exposure therapy plans. I can't recommend this book highly enough. Just understanding my OCD the way Schwartz explains it has given me great hope and peace - two things I haven't have for a very long time. Thank God for people like Schwartz who have a genuine understanding and compassion for people with OCD, and for the hope his work brings to sufferers. Waste no more time - get this book NOW!
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on 25 February 2004
This is simply the best book I have read on the subject.His truly
indepth understanding of O.C.D. transforms the book and Dr. Schwartz into lifelong friends and allies.He quickly points out the FACT that no matter how horrible/disgusting/frightening/etc your thoughts/obsessions or actions/compulsions are the FACT is you are not to blame. It is not your fault, you are not responsible for them. It is simply a chemicle imbalance.
You can then read the book feeling so much better about yourself
and feeling more prepared to fight the "war" against o.c.d.
One of his great sayings throughout the book is this : "It's not me, its o.c.d." A fantastic MUST,MUST,MUST READ.
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If you suffer from OCD, or are a relative or carer, off someone with OCD - then this book is the only ticket available that can truly set the Mind of the troubled and intrusive, negative, OCD thought patterns free; that comes with every person with "obsessive compulsive disorder".

The book is written in a very concise, no bull, direct n' easy to understand format, to get the numbers crunching fast, after 5 pages I was hooked and could not set the book down for 5 days until finished.

Its the only self help book that takes on OCD, and provides relief and change, where other books fail.

Please buy this book if you cannot make up your mind what to buy, as in my humble opinion its the BEST.!

Take care...
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on 25 September 2013
I needed this book, a LOT. It is quite common sense and very repetitve - but for me that is why it works so well. It keeps reminding you where the problem lies - in your make-up, your cells, your brain and not you as a bad person. You are not a bad person by what you think, you are bad by what you do. This has made me realise that all of the rubbish in my grey cells is exactly that. Telling yourself that it is just some randomn fluff blowing through your mind is liberating. Dont get me wrong, I am not a miracle cure case. Some days I am still as miserable as sin, BUT, they are know the minority. The favour is turning into more good days. I am not trying to sell this book - I have read and done lots that have made little or no imapct on me. The impact of this book on me, personally is massive, since I read this I no longer want to sit and dwell on the past (mostly anyway), I have completed two fun runs and am doing a half marathon in a month. This would NEVER EVER would have happened to me before. When I need reminding of some of the key facts I do return to this book and think I will for a long time yet. Give it a go, you may be surprised by it and yourself. If it doesnt work you have only thrown away a small number of £'s. There are plenty more books to keep on trying if it doesnt work for you.

NB - wait until you read the genetic aspect of OCD. I have picked traits from my mother, father, brother, sister, some aunts and uncles which indicate HUGE OCD problems - so it is hardly surprising I have carried the OCD baton.

Some of thefamily members traits have included - Depression (5 people) , checking locks, checking gas, water, electric switches before going out, obsessing on the house being burgled, checking the car door (lots), checking windows. Scrubbing the grout in the tiles (weekly) to get them clean, alcoholism, chain smoking, anxiety, being sectioned - the list is almost endless. Dont blame yourself, get out of that trap and train your brain. Good luck.
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on 18 July 2013
I bought this book after discovering I have OCD 8 months ago. Given the relative newness, unusual nature and potency of the disorder, I was somewhat doubtful as to whether a book could make a dent in it. The reviews were glowing though so it was a very cheap gamble.

This book comes out of the gate strong because its author is a doctor/academic who actively studied OCD at UCLA prior to writing the book and helped pioneer a treatment which was shown to work for most people. So by reading the book, you're suddenly privvy to an awful lot of accumulated knowledge and findings concerning OCD, as well as a proven way of treating it. For instance, he explains to you how a physical defect in the brain is responsible for OCD and how the brain works differently in response to that defect. This lays the necessary foundations required for understanding why the four step method at the heart of the book is relevant and works.

For anyone in search of a cure to OCD, it's vital that you understand that the four step method discussed in this book is not a cure as such. In my best attempt to sum up what the book says about this: as OCD is a congenital defect in the physicality of the brain, there probably won't be any kind of cure for a long time. So at this moment in time, your choices are either medication to mitigate the problem, psychotherapy, some alternative approach, or a combination of these. By all accounts the four step method has been proven for the most part to improve OCD sufferers lives, and can be done without medication in some cases. It's essentially a different way of looking at the problem and of responding to it which, if practised correctly, can dramatically change your brain chemistry and effectively work around the defect in the brain, thus allowing you to keep most of your obsessions/urges in check most of the time, rather than letting it dominate your life.
So forget about a cure, but if you're interested in improving your quality of life with OCD, this book is apparently a very good place to start.

There are some gems scattered throughout the book which break up what might otherwise be a tough read. Real examples of OCD symptoms exhibited by members of his UCLA group are dropped in intermittently, as are details of their recovery. The high probability that Howard Hughes had OCD is discussed, along with supporting behavioural examples. Now these were some of the most precious parts of the book for me, because I'd hitherto had serious doubts as to whether this "thing" I'd got really was OCD at all, or whether the whole thing was even understood properly at this point in time. I was so doubtful it took me some months to start reading the book after I'd bought it. When the real examples provided or elements thereof match your personal experience with the disorder, this really validates that you do indeed have this same disorder they're describing and that's a relief as you don't feel like you're barking up the wrong tree or wasting your time. The book does a lot of groundwork like that, without which it could be more concise, but less valuable.

Occasional black & white images or cartoons also serve to support what's being discussed or simply provide some light relief. There is even an OCD checklist somewhere in thebook which, innocuous as it sounds, led me to the realisation that my father also has OCD or at the very least Obseessive Compulsive tendencies. Indeed, there is some discussion about genetic inheritance, and the close connection between OCD and Tourettes syndrome.

It's hard to stress how fascinating this is when it's about something you've been suffering with in ignorance for more than half your life. Suddenly bells start to ring and patterns emerge, like joining the dots, and giving rise to reactions like "Ahhhhhhh - so that's why ...." or "Oh my God - I thought it was just me".

I'll be brutally honest - at first, I wasn't crazy about the writing style or the style of humour used in the book, but this is a case where content supremely outweighs style, and besides, I have to remind myself that this book has to accommodate people of all ages, sex, race. So I think I'd be mean spirited to mark it down based on that.

Now there is an element of repetition in the book, re-explaining things in a different way again and again. Whether that's deliberate or accidental, it's great for me as my OCD means reading is difficult - I often set out with best intentions but make next to no progress and have to abandon it until a better time, or spend hours covering, say 2 pages, as I constantly have to pause to deal with something, or I have to go back and re-read a whole sentence or a paragraph or a page, because it just didn't register the first time. {People reading this without OCD will probably be thinking "what the .... ?" at this point, while people with OCD will probably be nodding their heads going "yup"}. So anyway, it can take me months to read a book and I often find myself forgetting parts I've already read, so this repetition works well here for me. Regardless how well you read though, there are some pretty esoteric ideas in play here and I think the repetition probably serves most people well.

At this point, I can't in all honesty comment on the efficacy of the four step approach which is obviously key to the book. It's early days for me and my OCD is quite severe, so after one false start I decided to just focus on getting into regular meditation, which I'm told can be a useful ally in combatting OCD. Once I'm meditating regularly I'm going to recommence the four step method in earnest. What I can say though is that the logic behind the method makes absolute sense in line with how the brain/disorder works and other material I've read about how neural pathways are strengthened/weakened in the brain depending on what you dwell on or do not. Somehow, having the problem explained thoroughly and being given an approach that you know will improve your symptoms is helpful in itself. So whether tyou've started the 4 steps in earnest or not, you find yourself gradually looking at it all differently which is good preparation - relegating elements of your OCD and having real hope that you can get this thing in check some day soon.

It's worth mentioning that this book already proved superior to counselling sessions provided by the NHS which *badly* covered only a small fraction of the material in the book. So thank God I had started reading this book just prior to that or I might have thrown the towel in right there and then.

There's something else important that you need to understand about this approach though. There's a hefty amount of commitment and effort required on your part otherwise the book is useless. Like the man says, you have to be active, not passive. Now I imagine that shouldn't be a problem to anyone suffering with OCD as they obviously want their life to improve and this approach does that, plus they're already used to giving 500% on a daily basis. I think it just takes some time to absorb what the book is saying and develop your own interpretation of it so you're ready to take a good run at the four step method. It may take many attempts until you get the right head on you. You may need to try meditation first like me.

The book can only arm you with the understanding and tools to treat the disorder - the rest is entirely up to you.

This book has educated me very well about what's being dominating my life for the last 25 years, while simultaneously giving me hope of combatting OCD *without pharmaceutical drugs*. I can't ask for more than that.

Edit: 13/09/13: I since finished the book and I stand by what I said above. In fact I'd say the last half of the book is better than the first. But it's all very relevant information. You really need to read it all before you can make your mind up, but if you do read it all, the method of treatment discussed in the book does make a lot of sense. It seems brutal at first, but once explained it becomes apparent that (a) it works if done correctly, and (b) in the absence of a "cure", it's your best hope for getting better. It seems to be the book people usually mention on OCD forums too. So ... all good things.

(EDIT 23/10/14: I tried reading Break Free from OCD which is often recommended along with this book. I know this is probably a subjective thing, but all I can say is I didn't get on well with the literary style or approach in that book and much prefer this one. All I can tell you is that an awful lot in Brain Lock resonated with me and what I read so far in the other book did not. But maybe that's just me. Not actually sure I'll finish the other book now because of this.)
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on 2 July 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 13 September 2014
As a sufferer of OCD my entire life, I am now entrenched with this illness. This book gave me hope, and practical tools that actually work, to help get my brain "Unstuck" and "move the gears manually"
This is a wonderful book, and the only one I have read thus far (still to try another recommended by OCD UK) which does justice when explaining what living with this condition is really like. If you have OCD, mild or severe - BUY THIS BOOK. If you are a family member, parter, or friend of a sufferer - BUY THIS BOOK!! My only complaint was several "God" references at one point which were tedious and pointless, but apart from this, very helpful. There is hope.
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