Psychiatry by the Dumpster: One Man's Struggle with OCD

Psychiatry by the Dumpster: One Man's Struggle with OCD

by Elias Aboujaoude

Psychiatrist and OCD specialist Elias Aboujaoude gives a poignant account of one man's struggles with severe OCD and his journey to recovery.

Editor's Note: The following article was adapted from Compulsive Acts: A Psychiatrist’s Tales of Ritual and Obsession, published by University of California Press, Berkeley (2008).

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Three Feet

In a way, George was special from day one. I can still remember Dawn, my clinic clerk, paging me at 1:45 PM, three quarters of an hour after his first scheduled appointment, to warn me: “Oh, Dr A., you’re gonna love this one!”

“Please don’t tell me the patient just showed up,” I said. “How am I supposed to do a full intake in the remaining fifteen minutes?”

“I know,” Dawn answered, “but I couldn’t just let him go. I don’t know what to say, but he’s—how should I put it—he has his reasons for being late…. He’s different, even by our standards in this clinic, and even after nine years of doing this! I had to go out into the parking lot to check him in. That should give you an idea...”
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© University of California Press, 2008.
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Elias AboujaoudeDr. Elias Aboujaoude is a psychiatrist at Stanford University School of Medicine, where he is Director of the Impulse Control Disorders Clinic. His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, on NBC, and elsewhere. His most recent book is Virtually You: The Dangerous Powers of the e-Personality.
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CE credits: 1.5
Learning objectives:

  • Describe symptoms of severe obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Illustrate Aboujaoude's bio-psycho-social approach to treating OCD
  • Understand the use of SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) treatment for people with OCD
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