Finding X: One Family's Solution to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Joni and Ray St. John. Vermilion, $14,95 paper (331p) ISBN 978-1-4675-6762-6
Mother and son Joni and Ray St. John offer up a complicated book that aims to be simultaneously an account of both their struggles with OCD; a primer for people who have the disorder, as well as their friends and family; and an instructional therapy handbook. It succeeds in some of these areas while failing in others. As an intimate portrait it excels, especially in the sections that Ray, who is a college student, writes. His honest descriptions of growing up with the disorder, going through therapy, and his life today are at once heartbreaking and hopeful. As a primer, the authors struggle with succinct descriptions, relying repeatedly (and perhaps rightly) on similes and metaphors. As an instructional therapy guide it falls short. But the authors tell their story with courage and without apologies; they accept their situation for what it is and recognize the fact that many of their questions don't have answers. They make it clear that "trying to predict how [someone with] OCD will behave... is like predicting what the weather will be in the next few years" and show that asking someone to eliminate compulsive behaviors in response to obsessive triggers is "like asking a three-pack-a-day smoker to quit [his or her] habit overnight." This book—imperfect as it is—will be a welcome companion for those struggling with OCD and those who have family or friends with the disorder.
Reviewed on: 12/16/2013
Release date: 08/01/2013
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