The Boy Who Couldn't Stop Washing

The Boy Who Couldn’t Stop Washing

The Experience and Treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Written by:

Mass Market Paperback
Additional Formats
  • Mass Market Paperback
  • ISBN 9780451172020
  • 304 Pages
  • Signet
  • Adult


  • One boy spends six hours a day washing himself—and still can’t believe he will ever be clean
  • Another sufferer must check her stove hundreds of times daily to make sure she has turned it off
  • And one woman, in an effort to ensure that her eyebrows are symmetrical, finally plucks out every hair
  • All of these people are suffering from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), an emotionally crippling sickness that afflicts up to six million Americans. Cleaning, counting, washing, avoiding, checking—these are some of the pointless rituals that sufferers are powerless to stop. Now a distinguished psychiatrist and expert on OCD reveals exciting breakthroughs in diagnosis, succesful new behaviorist therapies and drug treatments, as well as lists of resources and references. Drawing on the extraordinary experiences of her patients, Dr. Judith Rapoport unravels the mysteries surrounding this irrational disorder . . . and provides prescriptions for action that promise hope and help.

    The Boy Who Couldn't Stop Washing

    The Boy Who Couldn’t Stop Washing

    Written by: Judith L. Rapoport


    “Deeply moving and impressive.”
    —Oliver Sacks, M.D., author of Awakenings and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

    “Offers help to millions who suffer in silence.”
    Chicago Tribune

    “First-rate meticulous clinical observation and state-of-the-art laboratory studies illuminate an important human problem.”
    —Leon Eisenberg, M.D., Harvard Medical School

    “This book, with its information and lively writing, and informed by the author’s obvious compassion for her patients, makes an important contribution to understanding an intriguing and irrational illness.”
    The New York Times Book Review

    Table of Contents


    Part I: The Patients Speak: Parents
    1. The Auto Accident That Never Was
    2. Rituals and Contaminations: Zach and His Family

    Part II: The Patients Speak: Children
    3. Paul: Stuck in the Doorway
    4. Arnie: The Paper Route
    5. Morris: Mr. Clean

    Part III: A Doctor’s Perspective
    6. The Boy Who Couldn’t Stop Washing
    7. The Doubting Disease
    8. Is OCD a Brain Disease?
    9. Unlearning to Understand
    10. Anafranil: A Wonder Drug?
    11. David’s Drug Odyssey
    12. How Sweet It Is!
    13. The Hidden
    14. No Joke
    15. The Music Goes ‘Round and ‘Round
    16. My Mind on My Mind
    17. Over and Over Again
    18. The Secret Life of a Street Person
    19. Count Me Out
    20. Love Story
    21. AIDS: The New Obsession
    22. The Hair-Pulling Women
    23. Innocent Sinners
    24. A Thousand Commitments to God

    Part IV: On the Boundaries
    25. The Obsessionality of Everyday Life
    26. Knock Wood
    27. Grooming and Nesting
    28. I Can’t Get You Out of My Mind
    29. Free Will and the Uncertainty of Knowing

    Part V: Do You Have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?
    30. Making the Diagnosis
    31. What to Do If You Have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

    Appendix: The Religious Perspective
    References and Suggested Reading