In honour of both the new Bond movie and the fact that we’re watching From Russia With Love, I’d like to introduce you to a brand-new Brain of SNJ character: Dr. No, a former psychologist of mine who once ran a giant magnet up my spine. As I’ve explained, finding the right doctors was a six-year odyssey full of wrong terms, dead ends, and rusted signs I ignored in favour of shiny ones. Dr. No was a fascinating wayside stop. Here are five things I’ll remember about the two months we worked–“worked”–together:
- The magnet. The appointment that ended with the giant magnet being run up my spine was my last with Dr. No. I’d been thinking about leaving him almost from the beginning; this incident gave me the necessary impetus. Earlier in the visit he’d encouraged me to neutralize obsessive thoughts by attaching them to a musical melody. He actually made me write a song that I’d use to counteract OCD. He wanted me to bring my guitar to the next session. I’m not making this up.
- The using-compulsions-to-treat-OCD. Thought replacement’s a form of compulsion. Dr. No made in an integral part of his treatment: he’d encourage me to conjure up a negative thought and hold it in my mind’s eye, then replace it with something constructive. (One of the things I used to think about was a Blue Jays win over the Angels of Angels. That seemed as good as anything else.) Thought replacement might seem like a good idea–but it’s not. It’s counterproductive. And Dr. No embraced it.
- The psychoanalysis. Freudian psychoanalysis is absolutely not recommended for treating OCD–and, in fact, has been demonstrated to set patients back. I knew this; Dr. No apparently didn’t, and despite my protestations (and yes, I vocalized them) he plowed ahead with a psychoanalysis that, not surprisingly, put my OCD squarely on my parents’ shoulders. I don’t think it set me back, but I do think it was ill-advised. Plus, I told him I didn’t want it! And then he did it anyway! I’m not making this up! Exclamation mark!
- The aromatherapy. Dr. No had me carry a bottle of lavender extract. He claimed it reduces anxiety. Maybe it does, but I think I’d have been better served with, say, exposure with response prevention–the treatment method that’s consistently shown to be most effective for OCD. And speaking of that…
- ERP: Exposure with Response Promotion. ERP stands for either exposure with response or ritual prevention. The concept of “prevention” is therefore integral to ERP…except to Dr. No, who said he liked to call it “exposure with response promotion.” Promotion, of course, is the opposite of prevention; we never did delve in Dr. No’s concept of ERP, but I’ve got a feeling it would’ve been as counterproductive as using compulsions to treat OCD.
I liked Dr. No as a person, but it was painfully obvious he wasn’t suited to handling OCD. I stuck around because I wanted things to work out; OCD sufferers are notorious for running from their therapy providers, and I decided I didn’t want to be That Guy. In the end, however, I had no other recourse: Dr. No was simply the wrong man for the job, and no matter how much I liked him as a person I needed an expert, not someone who’d encourage me to manage OCD by playing the guitar. (Postscript: I later claimed our appointments for income tax purposes, only for Alberta Blue Cross to reject the receipts because Dr. No hadn’t provided enough information. This shouldn’t surprise you in the least.) If you’re with the wrong person, move on. And do a bit of research before meeting with any psychologists. It’s amazing how a little bit of work can turn a Dr. No into a Dr. Awesome.