James Hicks, M.D., 50 SIGNS OF MENTAL ILLNESS (Yale University Press)

Dr. James Hicks
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As you leave for work you turn the key to the porch door all the way to the right, firmly enough to be sure that you have successfully locked it. You want to turn it further, but if it breaks off in the lock again you'll be in trouble. You turn it back to the left, then to the right, and back and forth again four more times. Now it is safe to head to the car and strap your daughter into her car seat. To be sure that the car door won't pop open and the car seat fly out as you round a corner, you use the electric lock on the key ring to lock and unlock the back door three times. You also check the lock manually before getting into the driver's seat. You count to ten before starting the car, then off you go. That went pretty smoothly. You might make it to work on time today.

But wait! What if you left the porch door unlocked? Did you check it, or did you forget? You think you checked. You always do. You'll just have to start over to be sure. You turn the car around and head back into the driveway. You remove the keys from the ignition, unstrap and remove your daughter, and walk back to check the house. Of course, the door was locked.

You call the daycare center to let them know you'll be late again. You don't want them to worry.

This chapter covers the following topics:

  • Compulsions
  • Compulsions May Occur in Illnesses Other Than OCD
  • How to Cope with Compulsive Behaviors


This excerpt may not be reproduced without written permission from the publishers.
Fifty Signs of Mental Illness: A Guide to Understanding Mental Health
Yale University Press / New Haven and London
Copyright © 2005 by James Whitney Hicks

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