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06 May 2008

The Boy who couldn't stop Washing

Much has been written on obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) since Rapoport’s book came out in 1989, but this remains the classic.

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The Boy who couldn't stop Washing by Judith L. Rapoport

“When you write your book,” Judith Rapoport’s patients begged her, “be sure to explain that WE JUST CAN'T STOP.”

Much has been written on obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) since Rapoport’s book came out in 1989, but this remains the classic – the first book to bring this devastating, and fascinating, disease to public attention.

In her excellent overview, psychiatrist Rapoport gives a human face to a disease that can seem bizarre and incomprehensible to outsiders.

The case studies of otherwise sane people trapped in repetitive rituals and obsessive thoughts are as relevant today as ever – such as Charles (who inspired the book’s title), compelled to shower for hours on end to remove an imagined “stickiness” from his skin; Paul, unable to enter a room without spinning around eight times; and Laura, kept back at school because of needing to count to 50 before each word she read or wrote.

The author’s particularly empathetic tone brings home the real desperation of OCD sufferers, often endured in the face of ridicule and misunderstanding. She is also not afraid to admit to the limitations in her field in terms of understanding this often intractable disorder. You sense the warm relationships she has with many of her patients, and her sense of mission on their behalf.

(Review by Olivia Rose-Innes)

To purchase this book, click here.

 
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