OCD and Long-Term Relief (Lakin)

Although I don’t suffer from OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), I know people who do. It isn’t much of a joking matter when someone has a serious case of OCD. I’m certainly no expert on OCD, but I do want to point out a helpful book on OCD that I just finished reading for pastoral reasons. It’s called Free Yourself from OCD by Jonah Lakin. This book is not a Christian book and I don’t agree with every aspect of it. However, much of it is super helpful and will be useful for Christians as a common grace tool to combat OCD. Free Yourself from OCD uses a form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) called exposure and response prevention (ERP) to help people free themselves of OCD. Here’s an explanation of this:

“…It turns out that trying to change one’s thinking and feelings first is not very effective for overcoming fear and anxiety. Rather, when it comes to anxiety and OCD, people need to try out new behaviors first. These new behaviors allow them to have new experiences that result in changes to their thoughts and feelings. This is the basis of ERP, and it’s helpful to remember that ERP is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy.

ERP therapy is a treatment in which you choose to repeatedly face situations that trigger your fears and intrusive thoughts. Facing these situations is called exposure because you are exposing yourself to them. Response prevention means that you prevent the normal response patterns you been using from happening. So, if your typical response is to run away or engage in a ritual…, you are going to stop doing that action. Put another way, you will gradually face your fears and resist doing the things you normally do to make yourself feel better. Unlike compulsions or avoidance, which provide short term-relief at the expense of long-term suffering, ERP causes short-term distress in the service of meaningful long-term relief.

That’s a summary of this book’s approach to combating OCD. It for sure is worth getting if you struggle with OCD or know someone who does. Here’s the full info for this book:Jonah Lakin, Free Yourself from OCD: CBT-based Strategies to Manage Intrusive Thoughst and Compulsive Behaviors (Emeryville: Rockridge Press, 2020), 11-12.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI.