ALPHABETICAL BRAIN™ VOCABULARY
HUMANIST SECULAR SCIENCE STAR
JEFFREY SCHWARTZ

June 10, 2021

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BRAIN LOCK:
Free yourself from
obsessive-compulsive behavior.

by Jeffrey M. Schwartz.
HarperPerennial, 1996, 2016
20th Anniversary rev. ed. (288 pages)

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    Quote = "The 4-Step Method of group therapy for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder has helped hundreds of thousands of people since the book, Brain Lock, was first published more than 20 years ago. The 4-Step Method helps patients overcome irrational impulses through a process of Relabeling, Reattributing, Refocusing, and Revaluing. Patients learn how to extinguish (forget) their obsessive-compulsive behaviors and reinforce (remember) new habits through bonding with others during the group therapy training. The 4-Step Method of training changes brain chemistry. It rewires the brain and can even modify the genetic disposition of a patient." (Paraphrased by webmaster from publisher's blurb)

    Quote = "The 4-Step Method can help a patient lead a happier, healthier life! It can help a person achieve peace of mind as the bothersome OCD symptoms are banished and patients regain control of over their destinies. It teaches patients how to become capable of rechanneling compulsive urges into more socially acceptable feelings and activities. By doing that, the neuronal circuitry of their brains is altered, which gives patients more willpower/free will." (Paraphrased by webmaster from publisher's blurb)

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    BOOK OUTLINE
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    note = Numbers in parentheses refer to pages

      note = Schwartz, was the co-author of the book, A Return to Innocence in 1998; and the co-author of the book, The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force in 2002; and co-author of the book, You Are Not Your Brain --- the 4-Step Solution for Changing Bad Habits, Ending Unhealthy Thinking, and Taking Control of Your Life in 2012 . Schwartz is a UCLA psychiatrist and pioneer therapist who developed an effective group therapy protocol for treating patients with obsessive compulsive disorder ["OCD"].

      Quote = "The 4-Step Method of group therapy for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder has helped hundreds of thousands of people since the book, Brain Lock, was first published more than 20 years ago. The 4-Step Method helps patients overcome irrational impulses through a process of Relabeling, Reattributing, Refocusing, and Revaluing. Patients learn how to extinguish (forget) their obsessive-compulsive behaviors and reinforce (remember) new habits through bonding with others during the group therapy training. The 4-Step Method of training changes brain chemistry. It rewires the brain and can even modify the genetic disposition of a patient." (Paraphrased by webmaster from publisher's blurb)

      Quote = "The 4-Step Method can help a patient lead a happier, healthier life! It can help a person achieve peace of mind as the bothersome OCD symptoms are banished and patients regain control of over their destinies. It teaches patients how to become capable of rechanneling compulsive urges into more socially acceptable feelings and activities. By doing that, the neuronal circuitry of their brains is altered, which gives patients more willpower/free will." (Paraphrased by webmaster from publisher's blurb)

    ACKNOWLEDGMENTS (ix)

    This book emphasizes a group self-treatment method for successfully changing a person's brain chemistry in order to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder [OCD].

      [1] What are obsessions?

      [2] Getting the (wrong) message

      [3] What are the compulsions?

      [4] A checklist of common OCD symptoms (x-)

    FOREWORD (xi-)

    PREFACE TO THE TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY EDITION (xiii-)

    INTRODUCTION — OBSESSIONS, COMPULSIONS, AND THE FOUR-STEP SELF-TREATMENT METHOD (xiii-)

    RESULTS:

    First, you can gain better control over your responses to your own thoughts and feelings, which makes day-to-day living much happier and healthier.

    Second, by changing your behavior, you can change the "faulty" brain chemistry that was causing the intense discomfort of your OCD symptoms. Since it has been scientifically demonstrated that the brain chemistry in this serious psychiatric condition is changed through the practice of the "four-step" plan, you can CHANGE YOUR OWN BRAIN CHEMISTRY by altering your responses to many other "bad habits". You can lessen the intensiveness and intrusiveness of the unwanted habits and behaviors, which will make them easier to break. (xxii-xxiii)

    SUMMARY [of the Four Step Method]

    STEP l --- RE-LABEL = You must recognize that the intrusive obsessive thoughts and urges are the RESULT of OCD. You must call the intrusive thought or urge to do a troublesome compulsive behavior exactly what it is! It is an obsessive thought or a compulsive urge. You must develop the ability to recognize the difference between the unpleasant feelings that OCD symptoms cause and reality!

    STEP 2 --- RE-ATTRIBUTE = You must realize that the intensity and intrusiveness of the thought or urge is CAUSED by OCD. It is probably related to a biochemical imbalance in the brain . You must ask the question, "Why does this keep bothering me?" And, you must answer it by accepting that you have a medical condition called OCD.

    STEP 3 --- RE-FOCUS = You must work around the OCD thoughts by focusing your attention on something more constructive, at least for a few minutes. DO ANOTHER BEHAVIOR by "shifting gears" and performing an alternative, wholesome behavior. You can actually repair the "gearbox" in your own brain by learning how to "RE-FOCUS" in a consistent way!

    This is where the hardest work is done and where the change in brain chemistry takes place. However, things come together very quickly, resulting in an almost automatic response. You can recognize OCD thoughts as "false" messages!

    STEP 4 --- RE-VALUE = Do not take the OCD thought at face value! It is not significant in itself. You must "RE-VALUE" those thoughts and urges when they arise. You will learn to "devalue" unwanted obsessive thoughts and compulsive urges as soon as they intrude. You will come to see intrusive OCD symptoms as the useless "garbage" they really are.

    PART 1 — THE 4-STEPS (1-116)

    1) STEP 1 — RELABEL: "It is not me — it is my OCD!" (5-)

    2) STEP 2 — REATTRIBUTE: "Unlocking your brain." (39-)

    3) STEP 3 — REFOCUS: "Wishing will not make it so!" (70-)

    4) STEP 4 — REVALUE: "Lessons learned from OCD." (96-)

    PART 2 — APPLYING THE 4-STEPS TO YOUR LIFE (117-202)

    5) THE 4-STEPS AND PERSONAL FREEDOM (121-)

    6) OCD AS A FAMILY DISORDER (127-)

    7) THE 4-STEPS AND OTHER DISORDERS --- Overeating, substance abuse, pathological gambling, and compulsive sexual behavior (182-)

    8) THE 4- STEPS AND TRADITIONAL APPROACHES TO BEHAVIOR THERAPY (188-)

    9) OCD AND MEDICATION (194-)

    10) UNIVERSITY OF HAMBURG OBSESSION-COMPULSION INVENTORY SCREENING FORM (198-)

    11) AN OCD PATIENT'S DIARY OF FOUR-STEP SELF-TREATMENT (201-)

    PART 3 — SELF-TREATMENT MANUAL FOR THE 4-STEP METHOD (203-220)

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR (221-)

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    ABOUT THE AUTHOR, SUMMARY,
    AND BOOK DESCRIPTION

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    ABOUT THE AUTHOR = Jeffrey M. Schwartz M.D. is an internationally-recognized authority on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and is the author of the bestseller Brain Lock. He is a Research Professor of Psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine.

    SUMMARY = In essence, Jeffrey Schwartz, MD, uses the mind to fix the brain. Stories of real-life experiences of actual patients are used to explain his revolutionary method and provide readers with the inspiration and tools to free themselves from their psychic prisons. The 4-Step Method retrains patients to regain control over their lives.

    BOOK DESCRIPTION = This 20th anniversary edition of the definitive classic book about how to defeat obsessive-compulsive behavior has a new introduction by the author.

    An estimated 5 million Americans suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and live diminished lives in which they are compelled to obsess about something or to repeat a similar task over and over. Traditionally, OCD has been treated with Prozac or similar drugs. The problem with medication, aside from its cost, is that 30 percent of people treated don't respond to it, and when the pills stop, the symptoms invariably return.

    In the book Schwartz presents a simple 4-Step Method for overcoming OCD that is so effective, that it is now used in academic treatment centers throughout the world. It was proven by brain-imaging tests to actually alter a patient's brain chemistry. This method does not rely on psycho-pharmaceuticals. Instead, patients use cognitive self-therapy and behavior modification to develop new patterns of response to their obsessions. In essence, they use the mind to fix the brain.

      1 - Do you perform unnecessary rituals in your daily routine?

      2 - Are you bothered by intrusive fears that don’t really make sense?

      3 - Are you unable to control runaway thoughts?

    If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you may be among the six million Americans who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a mental disorder that can wreak havoc in the daily lives of its sufferers and their families.

    In the book, Brain Lock, Dr. Jeffrey M. Schwartz, a psychiatrist at the UCLA School of Medicine and a world-renowned expert on OCD, shows you how to:

      1 - Free yourself from obsessive-compulsive behavior! Schwartz’s Four-Step method has helped thousands of people overcome irrational impulses through a process of Relabeling, Reattributing, Refocusing, and Revaluing to defeat their obsessive-compulsive tendencies.

      2 - Change your brain chemistry! Schwartz’s groundbreaking studies have shown that by using his Four-Step program you can “rewire” your brain and modify your genetic disposition.

      3 - You can lead a happier, healthier life and achieve peace of mind as you banish your bothersome OCD symptoms and regain control of your own destiny!

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    PROFESSIONAL BOOK REVIEW
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    [1] A remarkable achievement! This book will make a world of difference in the lives of people with OCD. – Eric Hollander, M.D., Compulsive, Impulsive & Anxiety Disorders Program, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.

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    AMAZON BOOK REVIEWERS
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    [1] The book, Brain Lock. is truly a remarkable treatment plan for OCD. I read Dr. Schwartz' book over 2 years ago while in the throes of a debilitating panic disorder fueled by OCD-like intrusive thoughts. Once the panic was under control (via meds) I started to search for a cognitive-behavioral treatment plan to control the obsessive thoughts. For years I tried to self-analyze the thoughts which amounted to pulling on one of those ropes which would further constrict the more you struggled.

    The panic disorder finally led me to a specialist who diagnosed both the panic and a mild form of OCD. I say mild since there are clearly OCD patients whose lives are extremely curtailed by the disorder such as incessant hand washing, fear of contamination, leaving the house, and so on. I'm fortunate not to suffer from this form of OCD, although I have experienced some agoraphobia, not uncommon with panic/OCD patients. As a result, I now understood that OCD (and panic) is nothing to be ashamed of and in fact is highly treatable due to recent, breakthrough advances in treating mental illness, medication being at the top of the list. Knowledge is power so no longer stigmatized, I was able to approach the problem as any other by looking for further research on treating the disorder and lucky for me, I came across the book "Brain Lock".

    The book demystifies OCD by attempting to explain the physiology behind the disorder. I am not medically trained but found the explanations plausible enough to continue on into the treatment phase. The most memorable, constantly reinforced phrase I recall from the book is that whenever you find yourself obsessing about an undesired thought, simply say to yourself "it is not me, it is my OCD."

    Once that realization hits home, you shift ALL your focus to something else such as work, a good book, playing with your child, or any activity that removes you from the obsessive "stuck in gear" pattern. It sounds simple but it DOES work. But you must work at it and the more acute the disorder the more difficult it is to shift control. That is where medication can be helpful as Dr. Schwartz points out. He doesn't really push meds but acknowledges that it is a crutch to get the ball moving in the right direction. He claims that most, if not all of his past patients at time of writing are off meds, using his 4-step, cognitive / behavioral process alone. That is remarkable!

    I have been on meds to control the panic but would probably go off it if my mild OCD were my only problem. Despite meds, I still run into occasional bouts with OCD. But by using Dr. Schwartz's 4-step method, I am able to shift gears and move away from it quickly. As a result, I do not build up guilt and discomfort at having the thoughts in the first place since I don't give them time to fester as I had done in the past. "It is not me, it is my OCD." Again, the book is a great read for someone aware of having OCD and looking for a self-help method of controlling it. -- John R. Petzon.

    [2] Useful for some types of OCD, but simplistic and judgmental = This book teaches OCD sufferers four steps to use to control their disorder, starting with "relabeling" their fears and urges as just a symptom of a disorder, rather than "something real." By reading the case studies, I figured out that "relabeling" means telling yourself, "My urge to perform my compulsive ritual is not a supernatural omen that something terrible will happen if I do not perform the ritual; it is just a symptom of OCD." The author never actually explains this, however.

    The technique described in this book may be quite useful for people who have the most common form of OCD - a fear that something terrible will happen if they don't perform some ritual. However, it's not really clear how to apply the techniques in this book to forms of OCD that do not involve a fear of some catastrophe. For example, the author never really says (or gives a good example of) how to apply relabeling to a tendency to horde objects, an urge to pull out one's hair, an irrational belief that one is ugly, etc, although he claims his techniques work for all of these problems. I suspect that these other forms of OCD need a completely different approach.

    Worse, the author makes it sound as if beating OCD is relatively straightforward, and that if his technique does not work, it can only be because the patient did not try hard enough. He seems unwilling to consider that his approach may not work for everyone, preferring to place the blame on his patients instead. For example, he describes one patient, Brian, who had an intense fear of contamination from battery acid. Brian would sneak to the scene of car accidents in the middle of the night to apply baking soda, which he felt would "neutralize" the contamination from a possible car battery leak. Most of the case histories in this book are success stories, but in Brian's case, treatment was a failure and his story is presented as a way of illustrating the toll that OCD can take on the patient's family.

    From reading the case history, it seems clear to me that Brian had not only OCD, but also a phobia of batteries. For example, he was terrified if he saw a battery. (Unlike, say, OCD sufferers who check and re-check their stoves but are not terrified by seeing a stove.) Given that Brian had a phobia of batteries, it might have helped to add a treatment for the phobia (e.g., systematic desensitization) to the OCD treatment, but it appears that the author never tried this. Instead, he concludes that treatment failure was all Brian's fault, saying that Brian must not have been motivated to overcome his OCD, even though Brian said the OCD made him so miserable that he wanted to die.

    Also, the author seems quite opposed to long-term drug treatment (he trivializes drug therapy as being like "water wings" for swimmers) but never gives a reason why. He also is critical of OCD sufferers who are willing to put up with some residual symptoms, even if those symptoms aren't interfering much with their lives. These seem to be moral judgments, with no acknowledgment that patients are entitled to choose what treatment works best for them.

    In conclusion, this book will be helpful for some OCD sufferers, but it is marred by a tendency to overstate the patient population who can benefit from the author's techniques, and a tendency to blame patients who do not have complete success with the author's techniques. -- Judith Shapiroon.

    [3] Help your OCD in less than a week of commuting in your car = This text, written by a psychiatrist experienced in treatment and research on OCD, presents a fairly simple but effective approach to dealing with troubling symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. He demystifies the nature and symptoms of the disorder and explains the interaction of the biological and behavioral elements of OCD.

    The program focuses on empowering the individual with OCD so that he or she can take an active role in decreasing or eliminating obsessions and compulsions. I often recommend the book to adults and adolescents who have OCD. When a person with OCD is engaged in cognitive-behavioral therapy, treatment is more successful if the individual feels empowered and does "homework" outside of the therapy session. This book reinforces this process. -- Carol Watkinson.

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    RECOMMENDATION: You may print this pdf version and read it and edit it by adding or deleting ideas. Then, you can read your edited version of these ideas according to a reinforcement schedule. This strategy can help you take advantage of the power of the spaced-repetition method of memorization. Such deep introspection can strengthen your willpower and increase your self-esteem by changing your adaptable self-identity.

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    REMEMBER ALWAYS:
    You Are Your Adaptable Memory!
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