The Boy who couldn’t stop Washing written by DR. Judith Rapoport, published by Penguin books in 1989, containing 292 pages, deals with obsessive compulsive disorder. Dr. Rapoport is a psychiatrist who specializes in obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). In this, book she reveals new drug treatments, new methods in diagnosis and behaviorist therapies. This is done through the study of her patients and their disorders. Rapoport has revealed this secret disease and hopes to bring and understanding about it to all that may suffer from it and to anyone who may want to be informed. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about OCD. It may help those who face this disease everyday of their lives, and make them realize they are not alone. Also will aid in those who do not know much about this disease and give them and understanding and be aware that it surrounds us.
There are many interesting quotes and advice given in this book; five statements stood out that I felt are worthwhile.
“Most Psychiatrists don’t use the word “crazy” but that’s exactly how to talk about it with an obsessive-compulsives. Since they are so sane in every other way, you must agree with and understand how upset they are by how crazy it all is” (pg. 6). This stood out to me and made me realize many things. Many who would look at people with OCD would think they are crazy, but in fact they are as normal in a sense as anyone of us is but they suffer from a problem. We all suffer from some kind of problem but not to this degree, so when people label them as crazy it is wrong as yet they are saner than many of us.
“Whether you know it or not you know someone with this disease”(pg. 115)
After finishing this book I realized that this is somewhat true. This is a disease that has been kept a secret, and those that suffer from it keep it a hidden. It is embarrassing and those that suffer from this wish not to be identified. It has become a ritual to the person; they feel if they admit that they suffer from this that they will be labeled as “crazy” when if fact they are not. One of our family members may have it or friends, we never know, and that’s the amazing thing because we might be able to help them but they are not willing to be open about it.
“Often parents behaviors, even quite odd and unreasonable behavior, are a reaction to difficult demands from a sick child, demands that they are only to glad to leave behind when the child stops suffering” (pg. 111). This was really interesting to me, before this I learned that parents help and participate with their sick children during their rituals, but as soon as the child is better things return to normal. This is understandable, a parent can’t bear to see a child suffer alone and so they join in as support. Their whole life may revolve around these rituals. Life then becomes awkward due to this. They only become happy when they are able to leave this bizarre life behind. What happens to the parents who don’t participate those who do not understand how may the child react to this? The parents who do cope and deal with the child and also help shows great strength, but also these parents need to find help because if they continue to just deal with it neither one of them will heal.
“A recent national survey of psychiatric disorders found that patients with OCD (compared with those without) are more likely to abuse drugs” (pg. 119) This amazed me when I read this. It said that a young man abused drugs as to relieve the pain of his disorder. He tried so many different drugs such as PCP and LSD; some helped him deal with it. Its sad that many of these OCD sufferers have to result to drugs to help cope with their disorder. I also wondered that if many of the drug users today are OCD sufferers. There should be more help for these OCD patients so they do not have to resort to using drugs, more should be done to research this, and help these people.
“Zach became almost a new child over night just learning that his father had to face the same problem. The secrecy that seems to be inherent in this disorder is the first and sometimes the greatest enemy to overcome” (pg. 69) When someone is ashamed they don’t try to bring attention to this disorder. This may happen in many situations in life where people have to deal with some kind of disease. It seems thought that OCD has usually been kept much more of a secret than many other diseases. Its hard to cope with this but once you realize you are not the only one who may have this problem it might become much easier to face. Especially if you know someone close to you faced the same problem, you may gain courage to cope with it.
This book was very intriguing; every aspect of this book amazed me. Rapoport starts of by telling the readers the purpose for writing this book is to inform people that they are not alone if they have OCD. She wants to inform those with OCD that help is available. She also wants to let those people understand more about their disorder. She wants to inform the non- informed about the disorder. It is extremely important for they’re to be an understanding about OCD among the general public. Understanding the disorder leads to disproving misconceptions.
Dr. Rapoport then goes into life and trials of a family coping with the disease. A father and son both have OCD. At the current time, the parents finally realize their son has OCD. The father than tries to form a bond with his son based on the fact that he also has OCD. So they both are able to cope with it and able to find a way out. He discusses with his son his past experiences with the disease. After each case, Rapoport explains the individual disorder involving the son. She also explains the treatment given. If it be medicine or psychoanalysis.
After the introduction into the disorder, Rapoport tries to explain the cause. The cause is really a mystery. They believe the problem involves neurotransmitters and the transferring of neurons. They base this on the fact that OCD resembles Parkinson’s disease and turrets syndrome. Many people take or are affected by different medicines. Anfril seems to be the most prominent drug used to treat OCD. This is based on a series of testing done, which is also described in the book. Rapoport then goes on to explain the different types of symptoms of OCD. There is the most popular which is washing. These people wash to get as clean as possible. What is strange is that they don’t seem to mind dirt, if it isn’t on themselves or on their personal belongings.
She also goes into rarer symptoms like hair pulling and religious compulsions such as sins and gathers. What I found particular is her chapter on boundaries. There are many aspects of our culture or nature that we can say might be OCD, but not exactly. For example people who are overachievers or people who constantly want clean atmospheres in their home or office etc. the final chapter refers to religious reasons for why OCD occurs.
There are many topics of OCD that I would like to further explore. One is particular is turning to drugs to try to cope with the disease. Also I would like to explore the more general topic of what is the cause of OCD, how does it come about and when did it originate. More boys suffer from OCD than girl’s do I would also like to explore this area, is there some chemical imbalance in boys that is different from those of girls.