An Investigation Of Compulsive Behavior

Compulsive behavior can take many forms – from double checking that the door’s locked to extreme, irrational habits that derail people’s lives. Science writer Sharon Begley joins us to talk about the relationship between these behaviors and anxiety, which she writes about in “Can’t. Just. Stop.: An Investigation of Compulsion” (Simon & Schuster).

Sharon Begley on … 

… what it’s like to have OCD: 

“What’s so interesting in OCD is that it has a characteristic called being ‘egodystonic,’ which means that even as the person feels that her hands are covered with germs and she has to wash them. Even though she did so maybe five minutes ago. Even as she feels that one part of her brain knows that is really not true. If she has been in treatment for OCD. If she has read some of the science about it, she will know, for instance, that feeling is the result of an aberrant signal in her brain. But even though she knows that. Even though she has reality tested the thought that her hands are covered with germs. She cannot resist giving into it.”