“Yikes! I might get contaminated!”
The Treatment of Sara
Today we are joined by a woman named Sara, who will be featured in one of the chapters from my new book, Feeling Great.
Rhonda begins today’s podcast by reading two heart-warming endorsements from podcast fans. Then we did a brief overview of OCD. OCD consists of two components, obsessions and compulsions. The obsessions are intrusive, anxiety provoking thoughts, like “what if I forgot to turn off the burners on the stove.” Compulsions are rituals that temporarily relieve the anxiety, such as going back into the kitchen repeatedly to make sure that the burners really are turned off. This problem can become more and more severe until the obsessive thoughts and compulsive rituals consume massive amounts of the patient’s time and become crippling.
You are probably aware that OCD plagued the life of the billionaire playboy, Howard Hughes, featured in the recent film, “The Aviator.” During the last years of his life, he became totally consumed by concerns about germs, and ended up isolated in the penthouse suite at the top of a hotel in Las Vegas. According to a “psychological autopsy” (https://www.apa.org/monitor/julaug05/hughes) published by the American Psychological Association, Hughes lay naked in bed in darkened hotel rooms in what he considered a germ-free zone. He even wore tissue boxes on his feet to protect them, and burned his clothing if someone near him became ill.
Sara, today’s guest, was a victim of the same type of OCD. She describes how her intense fears of germs and contamination came on more than 20 years ago, and the devastating impact of the OCD on her as well as her relationships with friends and family. She also describes her shame about her rituals of constantly washing her hands and desperately trying to avoid contamination.
Sara also describes, in vivid detail, her remarkable and inspiring five minute “cure” one evening at David’s Tuesday evening training group at Stanford earlier this year. She had courageously volunteered to be the patient so David could to demonstrate TEAM-CBT with a problem generally thought to be exceptionally challenging and refractory. And although Sara’s dramatic and mind-blowing recovery only took about five minutes, the treatment required a lifetime of courage!
Fortunately, one of my students had his cell phone in hand, and made a brief video of the last phase of her treatment at the Tuesday group, which involved putting her hands into a slimy, dirty garbage can right outside the front door of our Behavioral Sciences Building at Stanford and then rubbing her fingers on her face. Check it out!
And yes, the effects DID last! Her treatment was many months ago, and she’s been a totally changed person!
Following the podcast, Rhonda and I got two beautiful emails from Sara:
Wow! What a beautiful day! Thank you, Rhonda and David for the amazing opportunity to share my story! I feel very selfish but I enjoyed every minute of it. You both made me feel so comfortable and welcome. You two are so incredibly AWESOME! You make a superb team! 🙂
And here is the second wonderful email:
David, I hope you are feeling better and that you recover from your cold soon, very soon.
I wanted to share an afterthought I had a couple of days after we recorded the podcast. I wish I had thought about it before the podcast because this was so much part of my OCD.
Anyway, for years (many years) I bought sanitized hand wipes and carried them in my purse, car, briefcase, you name it—I had hand wipes everywhere. I was known for having wipes with me all the time.
Not long after the magical treatment of my OCD, I was at the grocery store and proceeded to add three packets of sanitized hand wipes to my basket and I burst into laughter, even though I was by myself! I, then, put them back on the shelf, as I told myself, “I don’t need these anymore!”
Since then, I no longer carry them NOR NEED THEM!
Funny enough, I have been approached on different occasions by family members and friends saying something like, “You always have wipes, can we have one, please?” I have to say, “Sorry, I don’t carry wipes anymore since I’ve been cured!”
What a wonderful feeling that is—not to feel dependent nor a slave to the sink and hand wipes. Not to mention, all the money I am saving by not buying wipes!!!
Anyway, I thought I should share that with you and I’m sad I didn’t remember it until after the recording of the podcast.
Once again, thank you both for the amazing recording, all your support, and all you do for our Tuesday training group and humanity in general!
With Immense Gratitude,
Sara Shane is a certified TEAM-CBT therapist practicing in the central valley of California (Stockton). She is multi-lingual and offers intensives—extended, single-session treatment of depression and all of the anxiety disorders. And, here’s something fantastic—although Sara is a superb therapist, her fees are modest, thus bucking the current trend of charging outrageous fees for psychotherapy in California. This is something I really admire and appreciate!
If you would like to contact Sara, you can reach her at: 209-476-8867.
David and Rhonda
You can reach Dr. Burns at email@example.com. Dr. Rhonda Barovsky practices in Walnut Creek, California, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is a Certified TEAM-CBT therapist and specializes in the treatment of trauma, anxiety, depression, and relationship problems. She also does forensic work in family court, but finds TEAM-CBT to be way more rewarding!
If you like our jingle music and would like to support the composer Brett Van Donsel, you may download it here.
* * *
You may have missed the summer intensives, but there will be one more awesome intensive in November.
High-Speed Treatment of Depression
and Anxiety Disorders
A Four-Day TEAM-CBT Advanced Intensive
November 4 – 7, 2019
The Atlanta, Georgia Intensive
Sponsored by Praxis
* * *
Coming up in 2020
High Speed Methods to Reduce Resistance
and Boost Motivation
With Drs. David Burns and Jill Levitt
Feb 9. 2020 | 7 CE hours. $135
Learn More & Register
The Cognitive Distortion Starter Kit:
How to Crush Negative Thoughts
With Drs. David Burns and Jill Levitt
May 17, 2020 | 7 CE hours. $135
Learn More & Register
It seems that the link to Sara’s exposure is missing
I just fixed it. Check it out. May have to reload the page to get the new version. david
Unfortunately Rhonda’s contribution to the episode was very difficult to hear.
Thanks, I have passed the information along, and we’ll watch out for this. Has the sound been okay on other podcasts? All the best, david
Would you say that the secret to overcoming OCD is willpower as a result of this experience?
I use four treatment models in the treatment of all anxiety disorders, including OCD. Certainly the willingness to use Exposure is required, but is only one of many helpful methods. You can search for anxiety on my website, and you’ll find many good podcasts. Also, there is a free anxiety closs on my website. d
I think it was okay for her to do the treatment, but to go on and lick her hands over things isn’t realistic. She really could get sick after licking her hands when touching the floor and the same goes the same way for licking the kids hands. This is the huge problem I have with treatment for OCD. It isn’t rational, and I think these therapists take alot of the exposures way too far too thus damaging the client. Irresponsible and unethical
it’s painful and feels unfair to be condemned as “unethical” for using exposure, which, in reality, cured her from decades of suffering. Still, you are totally right that thoughtfulness and compassion and skill are triply important when using powerful techniques. Any method that can quickly cure a person, can also hurt if not used with skill.
I would be, and I think most people would be, way more responsive to your excellent and super important questions and concerns were expressed in a less blaming and more respectful way. Have to run! david