OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE DISORDERS: Treating and Understanding Crippling Habits by Steven Levenkron

OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE DISORDERS: Treating and Understanding Crippling Habits

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This is the dawning of the Age of Obsession, according to psychotherapist Levenkron (Treating and Overcoming Anorexia Nervosa, 1982, etc.), who examines the increase in obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD) and links it directly to ""underparenting on the part of biological mothers with a career focus"" and the current cultural pressures on the two-career family. In contrast to Judith Rapoport's The Boy Who Couldn't Stop Washing (1988), which focused on the genetic basis of OCD and described treatment successes using a combination of drug therapy and behavior-modification therapy, Levenkron's thesis is that OCD develops in children who, denied a trusting, dependent relationship with a loving parent, turned inward, seeking comfort in repeated rituals. These can involve excessive cleanliness, overexercise, life-threatening eating disorders, or other crippling habits. Preoccupation with proper performance of the ritual makes it an obsession, and the need to repeat it is a compulsion, hence the term ""obsessive-compulsive disorder."" Levenkron acknowledges that the condition may have a genetic component, but his emphasis is on the environmental factors, that he believes permit or encourage its development. In his view, treatment requires long-term nurturant-authoritative psychotherapy, in which the patient learns to trust and depend on the therapist. Using case histories, Levenkron explains his own techniques for creating a dependency relationship and distinguishes these from other therapeutic techniques. The role of medication is briefly touched on, and the importance of family therapy is discussed. A clear presentation of one psychotherapist's experiences treating OCD patients. Levenkron provides guidance for other therapists, as well as valuable information for the families of OCD sufferers.

Pub Date: Jan. 15th, 1990
Publisher: Warner