Obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, is a mental illness characterized by obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are recurrent thoughts or mental images that occur inside people’s minds, which can feel out of control. These obsessions are oftentimes undesirable unwanted, and even disturbing, and can evoke feelings of fear, anger, or disgust. Compulsions, on the other hand, are repetitive thoughts and actions that people use to make obsessions go away.
For example, someone who is having recurring thoughts about dirt and contamination might find himself washing his hands multiple times a day to counteract these thoughts. In this scenario, the thoughts about contamination are the obsessions and the repeated washing of hands is the compulsion.
OCD affects as many as 2 million Americans, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. If you want to learn more about OCD, you can talk to a mental health expert, like a psychiatrist or psychologist. If you are unable to discuss OCD with an expert, another option is to read books about OCD, authored by experts in the field, to understand this disorder better.
Books about OCD are never meant to replace psychiatric interventions or therapy, which have been found to be effective in alleviating the effects of OCD. OCD books can, however, help someone understand it better. If you are someone who has been diagnosed with OCD, or someone who has a loved one with OCD, learning more about the condition can help give you clarity about what obsessive compulsive disorder entails.
Here are Best Psych Books‘ recommendations for the best OCD books to read in 2022.
Table of Contents
Everything You Need To Know About OCD
Author: Dr. Lynne Drummond and Laura J. Edwards
What it’s about: A newly published OCD book which is currently available for pre-order, Everything You Need To Know About OCD is written by OCD expert Lynne Drummond and serves as a primer for anyone who’s interested in understanding the basics of obsessive compulsive disorder. This book provides foundational information on OCD, from detecting its symptoms to learning about current treatments being used to treat this disorder. This book is a must-buy for anyone who wishes to have a basic understanding of what OCD is.
From the blurb: “OCD is a common, yet distressing condition, but one that is responsive to modern treatments. Everything You Need to Know About OCD gives you a comprehensive insight in to this condition, how to spot symptoms of it in yourself or a loved one, and outlines the treatment options available.”
Author: Sally M. Winston, PsyD and Martin N. Seif, PhD
What it’s about:Overcoming Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts is an OCD book written by two “anxiety experts,” Sally M. Winston and Martin N. Seif. In this book, Winston and Seif explain why people experience disturbing thoughts, why we find ourselves stuck with these thoughts, and why the things we tend to do to counteract these thoughts don’t work (and could even be harmful). Finally, Overcoming Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts presents strategies based on cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) that we can use to bridle these disturbing thoughts and take control of your life.
From the blurb: “If you have unwanted thoughts, you should remember that you aren’t alone. In fact, there are millions of people just like you—good people who have awful thoughts, gentle people with violent thoughts, and sane people with “crazy” thoughts. This book will show you how to move past your thoughts so you can reclaim your life!”
Author: Catherine M. Pittman, PhD and William H. Youngs, PhD
What it’s about:Rewire Your OCD Brain is a book written by Catherine M. Pittman, a clinical psychologist, and William H. Youngs, a clinical neuropsychologist. The book explains why our brains get stuck in endless cycles of obsessions and compulsions. Based on research in neuroscience and techniques in cognitive behavior therapy, not only does this OCD book explain what keeps us trapped in the seemingly unbreakable loop of obsessions and compulsions, but also demonstrates how we can “short-circuit” this cycle and free ourselves from the debilitating symptoms of OCD.
From the blurb: “The brain is powerful, and the more you work to change the way you respond to obsessive thoughts, the more resilient you’ll become. If you’re ready to rewire the brain processes that lie at the root of your obsessive thoughts, this book has everything you need to get started today.”
Living Beyond OCD Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
Author: Patricia E. Zurita Ona
What it’s about: Authored by Patricia E. Zurita Ona, Living Beyond OCD Using Acceptance and Commitment is similar to the books mentioned about in that it also provides tools for anyone suffering from OCD to deal with debilitating symptoms of the disorder. But unlike the other OCD books listed here, this workbook bases its strategies on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). In ACT, people learn not to avoid but instead accept their inner emotions as natural responses to certain life situations.
From the blurb: “Written from the office of a full-time therapist in a simple, uncomplicated, and unpretentious manner, this workbook will be useful for all clients suffering from OCD and for the therapists who work with them.”
What it’s about:When A Family Member Has OCD is authored by Jon Hershfield and specifically written for anyone who might not be suffering from OCD, but has a loved one who is. This book helps readers navigate family life when one member has obsessive compulsive disorder. It serves as a helpful guide for anyone who would like to understand what their family member with OCD is exactly going through.
From the blurb: “If your loved one has OCD, you may be unsure of how to express your concerns in a compassionate, effective way. In When a Family Member Has OCD, you and your family will learn ways to better understand and communicate with each other when OCD becomes a major part of your household. In addition to proven-effective cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness techniques, you’ll find comprehensive information on OCD and its symptoms, as well as advice for each affected family member.”
What it’s about: A little-known fact about OCD is that it can take many forms focusing on specific themes. One such theme is relationship OCD, wherein the obsessive thoughts and mental images are centered on relationships. Examples of obsessions associated with relationship OCD could be fears over one’s partner leaving or unwanted thoughts of cheating on one’s partner. In the book Relationship OCD, Sheva Rajee offers an evidence-based approach towards managing relationship OCD.
From the blurb: “Relationship OCD offers an evidence-based, cognitive behavioral approach to finding relief from relationship anxiety, obsessive doubt, and fear of commitment. You’ll learn to challenge the often-distorted thought patterns that trigger harmful emotions, increase your ability to think rationally, and ultimately accept the presence of intrusive thinking while maintaining the values of a healthy relationship.”
What it’s about:Obsessed: A Memoir of My Life isn’t like any other book in this list. Instead of providing expert-approved strategies on managing OCD, it depicts a first-person point of view of what it’s like to have obsessive compulsive disorder, written by someone who has lived with it for years. Author Allison Britz wrote Obsessed, which is her first book. She has a BA and MA from Wake University.
What it’s about: Last on our list of OCD books is Talking Back To OCD, which is written specifically to help kids and teenagers overcome obsessive compulsive disorder. The book is written by Dr. John S. March, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Duke University who specializes in the treatment of young people with OCD as well as other mental disorders. Talking Back To OCD is designed to help children and adolescents take control over OCD, helping them “tune out obsessions and resist compulsions.” It also provides guidelines for how parents can show love and support to their children as they face the challenges that OCD presents to them.
From the blurb: “No one wants to get rid of obsessive-compulsive disorder more than someone who has it. That’s why Talking Back to OCD puts kids and teens in charge. Dr. John March’s eight-step program has already helped thousands of young people show the disorder that it doesn’t call the shots–they do.”
There are plenty of other OCD books online, written by both experts and clients, which provide interesting perspectives on the disorder. The important thing to remember when considering a book about OCD is that its theme should be as close to your situation as possible. For example, if you are a parent of someone who has OCD, seek out books written specifically on the matter.
It bears repeating that OCD books are not a replacement for therapy or psychiatric intervention. If you think you or your loved one is in need of expert help, consult a professional as soon as possible.
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