February 20, 2011

Incessant Reruns of the Mind

I finally found a book written about Pure O OCD.  In fact, it was written by someone who actually has Pure O OCD.  I thought I would give a brief review of it here. 
"Incessant Reruns of the Mind" is told from the author’s perspective, as someone who suffers greatly from Purely Obsessional OCD.  The author, Phineas Michaels, is about 34 years old at the time of writing the book, and he claims to have suffered from OCD since he was four years old.  He has many obsessions, all occurring almost at once:  scrupulosity, harm, sexuality, and even some hoarding.  His obsessions take several forms, so he rates his OCD as extreme. 
The book has three parts:  Part One is meant to describe his OCD, Part Two is excerpts from his OCD journal, and Part Three is transcripts of some questions that an OCD researcher asked the author for a research project. 
It is clear throughout the book that the author does have extreme OCD.  The book is written almost as a “stream of consciousness” – he just writes exactly what is on his mind.  For this reason, the prose can be difficult to follow, and so can his train of thought.  But – I appreciated this, because in some ways, this is the essence of OCD – constant disturbing thoughts streaming through our heads. 
I could identify a lot with his struggles.  The avoidance.  All of the “What if?” questions.  The strong need to FIND THE ANSWER.  The author also discusses something that really impacted me:  the notion of not really knowing who the "real" Phineas is as a person.  He said that he had been suffering with OCD for so long (since he was four), and had so many rituals, and avoidance behaviours, that he didn’t really know who he was anymore.  Some of his rituals were so subtle – how he dressed, how he talked – that he could no longer distinguish the “real Phineas” from the “OCD Phineas”.  I can definitely relate to this in some ways, and it scares me to death. 
Although the book was difficult to follow at times, and didn’t really have a clear, beginning, middle or “happy ending”, I was thankful that someone simply wrote down a representation of what actually goes on in the mind of a Pure Obsessional.  This is not a book about hope, however.  In fact, I think it is a more “typical” representation of someone who has a mental disorder, specifically OCD.  He went for years without being diagnosed, and struggled to find an appropriate treatment provider.  Due to the severity of his OCD, the author felt that he needed in-patient care, however his insurance provider would only pay for two months, so he had to leave before receiving an appropriate amount of treatment.  At the end of the book, Phineas was struggling along, trying to find someone who would help him, and trying to find the money so that he could return to in-patient care. 
This is not a book like Jeff Bell’s “Rewind, Replay, Repeat”.  It doesn’t tell a story of recovery, or victory over the “OCD Bully”.  But it sure does get into a Pure Obsessional’s head. 
Incessant Reruns of the Mind can be purchased by following this link. 
If anyone has any other suggestions for Pure Obsessional books, I would love to hear them! 


  1. I remember someone promoting this book (his book) on one of the Yahoo OCD groups...

    Your summary and review confirmed my predictions of what this book might be like - steam of consciousness, etc. But I liked that you pointed out the merit in this, which is something I hadn't thought about - how, because it is written in this manner, it seems to capture the essence of OCD and to do so in a way that is more honest so that it seems like a "more 'typical' representation of someone who has a mental disorder, specifically OCD" as you say.

    I,too, can relate to the idea of not knowing who the "real" me is vs. the "OCD" me. But while this doesn't cause me concern, it also provides me with incredible hope. It makes me believe that I don't HAVE to go back to my "old" ways, the ways that I approached life even before my "relapse" that often left me incredibly exhausted and dissatisfied. What scares me is that thought that those old ways might NOT be related to OCD, but then I have to remember that, even if my dysfunctional approach to life wasn't tied to OCD (though I really think it was), I still have the choice to grow and to change. I don't have to go back to those "old" ways when I overcome my current OCD challenges.

  2. Fellow - Yes - I can also relate to the opportunity to grow. For me - so much of my ritualizing is avoidance and it makes me question what choices (ie: choices in friends) I have made in life due to avoiding triggers. So....if/when I start to manage my OCD better - will I suddenly realize that even my choice in friends aren't my "real/best" choices? I guess because my OCD is so related to these things - relationships etc - it affects these very important things in ways other than the obvious. Not sure if that makes sense or not.....?????