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Sunday, November 27, 2011
Jane Brody's NY Times article "Time To Get Rid Of All That Stuff", (Science, 11/22/11, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/22/health/the-hoarder-in-you-a-book-that-can-help-cut-through-the-clutter.html?ref=janeebrody)
fails to mention that hoarding is a form of OCD. OCD can take thousands of different forms, not just cleanliness, checking,
or neatness. Hoarders feel intense anxiety when discarding: either vulnerability that they might need the item "just in case",
or the equivalent of losing a loved one, betraying a relationship, or forgetting their own past. Making the public aware
of this connection would help many to seek the proper treatment, exposure therapy, which is the only therapy recommended by
national mental health organizations.
10:13 pm est
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
"Pathological Altruism" (NYTimes, Sci., D1, 10/4/11; http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/04/science/04angier.html?_r=1) is the
term coined for people who sacrifice too much for another. Paradoxically, such extreme sense of over-responsibility not only
hurts the giver, but also the recipient. What the Times fails to say is that this is indeed a form of Obsessive Compulsive
Disorder known as scrupulosity-OCD. While the Times properly describes the outward behavior, it fails to explain the underlying
cause, and hence the treatment for it. In mild forms, scrupulosity compels people to remove obstacles on the sidewalk that
others might trip over, to call repetitively to check up on people's safety, or compulsively give away their savings to charity.
In more extreme forms, the person can take reckless risks to ease another's pain or suffering. The Times noted examples
of animal hoarding to "save" abandoned animals, organ donors, and doctors who take overly heroic measures to help a patient
only to make them suffer more. In all of these, the "altruist" is projecting their own insecurity or suffering onto another,
seeing the recipient as more vulnerable than they may be. Moreover, self-sacrificing parents, taken to an extreme, inadvertently
make their children feel less deserving, guilty, and weak. Acknowledging that this is a common form of OCD, it gives hope
of very effective treatment for millions." Exposure-response-prevention (ERP) is a special type of behavioral therapy which
is the only treatment recommended by the International OCD Foundation.
10:44 pm est
Sunday, November 20, 2011
On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, thousands will remember those who died and plan to visit the memorial. Ironically, thousands
of the surviving victims with PTSD will turn off their TV and still can't leave their homes to attend the ceremony. The
New York Times (8/10/11, http://tinyurl.com/3b45rrw) reported on 9/11 victims who still have not obtained the proper treatment.
Further, the most popular treatment for flashbacks, antipsychotic drugs, such as Respiridone, have failed to resolve their
problems. (See 8/11, www.tinyurl.com/4yaykav.) PTSD is an extremely treatable disorder. Exposure Therapy, a special cognitive-behavioral
technique, has proven highly effective in hundreds of studies. Patients might not need medication indefinitely, if at all.
Exposure therapy is very structured, systematically reducing anxiety, avoidance, and flashbacks, the classic symptoms of PTSD.
Moreover, it works for all kinds of PTSD, whether caused by terrorism, warfare, disaster, accidents, or criminal assault
and rape. In short, it is tragic that victims and families still suffer completely unnecessarily.
9:00 pm est