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Brain Lock: Free Yourself from Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,469 ratings  ·  153 reviews
Paperback, 219 pages
Published January 31st 1997 by ReganBooks (first published March 1st 1996)
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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 ·  1,469 ratings  ·  153 reviews

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Anya Weber
Nov 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
I talked to my therapist recently about a troubling thought that had been in my head since junior high school. It was an irrational worry, but one that was extremely disturbing to me, and one that I'd never before been able to talk about or dismiss. "Oh, that's an obsessive thought," my shrink told me. "It's not a real thought. It just means your brain gets stuck in a loop sometimes. It's pretty common, and in your case it will be pretty easy to fix."

This was fascinating and liberating, and got
Critical Hysteria
Jan 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I touched the book three times then turned off the oven, again.
Julie Christine
Aug 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
I don't quite know how to rate and review Brain Lock, but I'll give it the old college try. Please note that several f-bombs are laced throughout my review. Profanity feels really good when it comes to fighting back.

I don't have OCD, but a friend who knows I struggle with claustrophobia and anxiety sent it along with a strong recommendation. And I'm oh-so-glad she did.

On the surface, the treatment method for OCD outlined and explained in Brain Lock wouldn't seem to have much to do with treatin
Elee Langham
Jan 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book was very helpful and I appreciate all of the information and tips. The only issues I had were:

1. I felt that some of this information is outdated, at least in terms of the complexities of OCD and linking a specific compulsion to a specific obsession is not always as cut and dry as he lays it out in the book (and, therefore, doesn’t provide information as to what to do when an obsession doesn’t result in a noticeable compulsion or how to keep from “refocusing” activities becoming compul
Really, the only thing I have to say is that if you actually suffer from OCD, this book is not going to help you. Maybe if you have a minor form. Basically, Schwartz teaches you to "reframe" your thoughts. Wow. This is inexplicably, by far, the most popular title out there on self-help for OCD. It might have some information for loved ones to better understand what is going on, but it will not assist a sufferer. Any professional in the field or sufferer will tell you pretty much the same thing, ...more
Aaron Pupo
Dec 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Brain Lock is a must read for anyone who has OCD and wants to combat it, or wants to learn about what OCD is and what people with OCD actually experience. The book is written by a doctor who has studied OCD for years, and features first hand accounts from many patients about their symptoms, treatment, and progress.

The book is mainly centered around a four-step plan wherein a person with symptoms relabels, reattributes, refocuses, and revalues their symptoms on their own so that they can slowly
Jan 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
As someone who suffers from OCD, I can say that this book helped change my life. I no longer take medication (and haven't for years) ever since reading this wonderful book and using the scientifically tested method of "relabel, reattribute, refocus, revalue". In fact, my symptoms have decreased by over 90%! While this book is for OCD, it can also be used for other related disorders, obsessions, and fixations. In fact, Dr. Schwartz shows that brain scans demonstrate by using this method, it helps ...more
Jun 09, 2013 rated it liked it
I thought that the numerous case studies in this book, while helpful in an empirical sense, distracted from the main thrust of the book: attempting to curb and eventually minimize OCD symptoms. It was very easy to get distracted by the stories of the patients involved in the outpatient therapy at UCLA. the four step approach seems valuable, but I think the book would benefit from some brevity and focus.
May 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This book was a great text for OCD using cognitive behavioral therapy as the guide. By rigorously practicing the four R's, people who suffer from OCD can alter their brain chemistry and improve their "brain lock." This book was especially helpful in explaining the exact biological causes of OCD - routed in malfunctioning of the caudate nucleus and orbital cortex. In addition, if you suffer from a moderate form as I do, reading the examples in the book will actually make you thankful that you don ...more
Fausto Genao
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was tempted to qualify it with three stars, but then I thought the information (in my P.V.) was actually, really good. And for people who suffer this disorder, it would be a flashlight in theirs dark and painful path. It´s something more common than smallpox, and I think is good for all people, know (even a few) about this topic. (Maybe a familiar, friend or even you, could be suffering OCD).

The issues I found in the book were the constants repetitions, I know they are good to secure knowledge
Danielle Connolly
Sep 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in changing their brain's chemistry
After reading this book, I realized I could do one of two things. I could continue to give into my obsessive urges OR I could accept the fact that the chemistry in my brain was off balance and work on changing it and start giving into my own urges.

If the patients in this book can overcome Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, anyone can.
Nov 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Great book for people with ocd.
Good explanation of the brain and how and where ocd occurs in the brain. Then 4 steps to overcoming (minimizing, not giving in to the compulsions) ocd. And yes, sometimes that means pills.
However, their idea of 'free' is minimizing, handling the ocd. Does not mean ocd disappears for good. It means you can handle it in your life.
Feb 18, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2021-books, book-club
This was a book club read and I’m glad I read it. I am usually the skeptic Christian who isn’t quick to label or accept psychological problems. I think we are quick to excuse our sinful habits and behaviors as a mental issue, rather than something we are culpable of and responsible to change.

This book, however, forced me look at certain mental problems as legitimate issues. Because we live in a fallen world, it is very possible that this fallenness influences our brain functions, whether fro
Nov 26, 2020 rated it did not like it
It’s amazing that this is the first book that comes up when researching OCD self help, or that people without OCD often feel qualified to recommend it.

When I first realized I had OCD last December, this was the first book I found. And wow, did it feel like a miracle. It promised to help me with just four steps, and as I read, included phrases like “It’s not me, it’s my OCD.” That was a relief at first.

I quickly found myself unable to master this method. Was I doing it wrong? My thoughts weren’t
My sister recommended this book to me when I was first struggling with panic attacks. It frustrated me because it wasn't my issue. I felt like Schwartz kept repeating himself and that his writing was boring.

Again, my frustration may simply be that I was looking for help, and it didn't apply to what I was struggling with.
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Overall, I thought it was helpful, but I didn't like the view of medication and it being a short term crutch. It works well for a lot of people and I think we need to recognize the long term value of it.
Definitely will come back to this book and the methods in it. OCD is the friggin worst.
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great practical advice on how to control OCD thoughts
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the quintessential book on therapy for OCD. But, even if you do not suffer from OCD, this book is valuable in that Schwartz takes a refreshingly non-materialist view of medicine and the human body. He has no qualms that basis of his therapy assumes that people have a physical brain and an immaterial mind. People with OCD have a perfectly healthy mind but a malfunctioning brain, which is how they are able to look at their compulsions and know full well that the compulsive action does not ...more
Jan 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Maybe people with severe OCD need things to be repeated to them several times, but I struggled with this book. The first half of the book was incredibly simple and repetitive, and then again it was all repeated in the last chapter. If I were to read this again, I'd skip the entire first half of this book. The parts that were medical explanations were difficult to understand as they weren't written in layman's terms. Or perhaps it was just me and an understanding of the brain's inner working is c ...more
Joseph Michael
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It shook me up in a good way that's hard to describe other than being told the way you think about yourself as a diseased person is just wrong. "It's not you, it's your brain' became a mantra. I think it's a balanced theorethical and practical approach to getting around the hairy brain of someone diagnosed with OCD. I was for a few months in which I realized that my OCD was just my state in life and my approach to my practical problems ( like figuring out what to do with myself, who am I, what a ...more
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
This book changed my life very positively. It was very difficult at first, in fact I spent several weeks trying to muster the courage to actually ACT, and I started with very minor assignments using the 4 step technique described in “Brain Lock”.

I am not saying using this technique is easy, because it requires steely determination and a virtual zero tolerance towards OCD thoughts and behaviours. It is effective though once you get the hang of it.

“Freedom from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” is t
Todd Price
Jul 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ocd, counseling
An outstanding book that has proven very helpful for me in dealing with OCD. I highly recommend it, not only for reading, but for rereading. I've read it three times and highlighted extensively and plan to review the highlights on occasion using the Kindle flashcard option.

An outstanding book that has proven very helpful for me in dealing with OCD. I highly recommend it, not only for reading, but for rereading. I've read it three times and highlighted extensively and plan to review the highlight
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book. It saved me and how I view myself. No joke... if you are struggling with OCD and need to get a grasp on the problem- grab this book and dig in. Not only does it give the 4 practical steps on how to overcome OCD, but even more important, it showed me that I’m not alone and what I’m going through is a true brain disfunction.

My genuine gratitude to the author for publishing this life altering book.
Nov 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Being Obsessive-Compulsive, I was recommended this book from a friend. I found it very interesting and applicable. However, I'm VERY GRATEFUL my life isn't as bad as the examples in the book! So, if anything, it's been a blessing to realize it could be much worse! ...more
CJ Connor
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Probably the book that has singlehandedly changed my life the most. Would recommend for anyone with OCD or intrusive thoughts. I try to re-read or at least skim it once a year (which I suppose you could argue could become a compulsion itself... oh, well).
Apr 01, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology
Interesting book about the organic origins of OCD
Apr 17, 2021 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is extremely repetitive with a lot of focus on case studies, but a lot of the case studies were indeed the same people. I am all for motivating people with inspiration from others but this book over did it. It was a bit hard for me to even finish the book, which is rare, but halfway through I was over, hearing about how other people prevailed by "applying the 4 steps". I also question the 4 steps and if you will get out of it what you think you will. The individuals were also in th
Jun 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Schwartz offers an excellent 'teach yourself' course on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Obsessional-Compulsion based OCD. However, I have two grave concerns with the book:

-The 4 step program (specifically step 3) is inherently designed only to remedy Obsession-Compulsion based OCD, where there is an obsession followed by a corresponding compulsive urge. The book and the 4 step program offers absolutely no remedy for Purely Obsessional OCD, also called Pure O. Inexplicably, Schwartz has omitted
Feb 11, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
That book showed me one more time that psychiatry is a hocus-pocus... It is written as a crime against science and all scientific values. Not to mention it is actually hundrets of pages of endless repetition: 'It's not me it's my OCD'. Basically the 'knowledge' might have taken no more than 4 pages in an article, it really would have been more than enough for the ideas of the author. All the rest of the bulk of the book is about how great they are at UCLA... And from what I had the unpleasantnes ...more
Rebecca Wilson
Oct 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Amazing life changing book and a great help with my OCD a friend leant me this just before I spent £900 on 12 weeks of privet therapy when I was very ill and had been on nhs waiting list for 3 years. The therapist was amazing I couldn’t have asked for better I actually really enjoyed our time together and I would go back if I took a bad turn again but to be honest I pretty much learnt enough from this book. It obviously hasn’t “cured” my OCD I’ll never be ‘cured’ but Iv honestly not been sufferi ...more
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Research Psychiatrist,
Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences,
University of California, Los Angeles

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