Brain Lock OCD


As many as five million Americans suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and live compromised lives. Traditionally, OCD has been treated with drugs, but psycho-pharmaceuticals have limitations. Additionally, up to 30% of people who take medications do not respond to it, but do suffer the side effects. For those who do respond, they sign on to a life time of medication: ceasing the meds causes a return of the symptoms.

In the mid 1990s, Jeffrey M. Schwartz wrote a book called Brian Lock which explores an alternative by applying mindfulness and combining it with traditional forms of behavior modification. It is a four step method for overcoming OCD that appears to be effective. Pharmaceuticals are not part of the equation.

The technique is called response prevention because the OCD sufferer learns to deter the habitual compulsion and replace it with constructive behavior eventually attributing less importance to the impulse.

The first steps let the patient proceed on their own without therapeutic supervision. The steps are relabel, reattribute, refocus and revalue. During relabeling the patient learns that the obsession is a compulsion only. The hands are not dirty, instead there is an obsession about dirty hands. The obsession is just that, not a state of reality.

Reattribute is the focus on understanding the chemical basis in the brain for the false messages the brain sends. The sufferer does not have to give in to a false message.

Refocus is the hard work. One must shift attention elsewhere, perform any pleasant or constructive behavior. Aim for fifteen minutes or more. The urge will fade and stop – eventually as new behaviors become second nature.

The fourth step is revaluing the compulsion – it’s importance is diminished. At this point the goal is that the OCD is under control and the sufferer is able to lead a life without the distraction of the obsessions.

Source: Brain Lock

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