The Malta Independent 15 June 2024, Saturday
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A novel approach to OCD

Marika Azzopardi Sunday, 23 October 2022, 07:26 Last update: about 3 years ago

Three psychotherapists from three different countries have come together to write this book, based on experiences and observations made in their own clinics. Dr Padraic Gibson, Dr Claudette Portelli and Dr Matteo Papantuono hail from Ireland, Malta and Italy respectively. Apart from being published authors and psychotherapists, they are also researchers and lecturers. The book, entitled The OCD Clinic - A new approach to understanding and treating obsessive-compulsive disorders was recently launched in Valletta in the presence of all three authors, each of whom has for many years worked closely with clients suffering from a wide array of Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, alias OCDs.

OCD is one of the key anxiety disorders, along with all the eating disorders, the totality of which the World Health Organisation has claimed as being the sixth largest contributor to non-fatal health loss around the world. The authors explain how rituals, intrusive obsessional thoughts, phobias, the compulsion for orderliness and symmetry, excessive fear of contamination, over-thinking and other behaviours tend to be triggered by doubt, rigid beliefs and over-thinking which makes the irrational become rational, trauma and fear of illness or infection. While certain OCDs are past-oriented and based on fear, there are those which are future oriented and based on pleasure, such as compulsive shopping and gambling.

The authors and clinicians refer to the failed solutions people seek to adopt so as to try and  solve their difficulties related to OCD. These may include the voluntary avoidance of anxiety-provoking contexts, which is the most common failed attempt of all. While proper clinical diagnosis is of tantamount importance, the clinicians have formulated an evidence-based method by which OCD sufferers can successfully manage to overcome their disorder. By understanding what lies at the core of the disorder, a tailor-made intervention based on unconventional logic assists towards "recovery". Via a series of professionally guided counter-rituals, ritual violations, postponements and other methods, the sufferer may be steadily weaned out of the issue causing the OCD.

A specific chapter in this book outlines compulsive eating disorders - bulimia, binge eating and vomiting. Another outlines the anxiety disorders which affect childhood and adolescence, and what the authors refer to as "the indirect therapy" which is recommended for use when working with parents and families.

The book is written in an easy language and being so simple to read and understand, makes it a valid tool not just for clinicians and therapists, but also for OCD sufferers and for their families, who generally struggle and grapple with the difficulties faced, without knowing how to deal with them effectively. Overall, this small book (73 pages + references) is a concise outline of methods that have proven to be effective for many people and which merit further study and consideration from professionals in the field.

'The OCD Clinic - A new approach to understanding and treating obsessive-compulsive disorders' by Dr Padraic Gibson, De Claudette Portelli and Dr Matteo Papantuono - published by Strategic Science 2021


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