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Compulsive Acts

Compulsive Acts: A Psychiatrist's Tales of Ritual and Obsession

Elias Aboujaoude
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 1
Pages: 191
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  • Book Info
    Compulsive Acts
    Book Description:

    In this compelling book, we meet a man who can't let anyone get within a certain distance of his nose, two kleptomaniacs from very different walks of life, an Internet addict who chooses virtual life over real life, a professor with a dangerous gambling habit, and others with equally debilitating compulsive conditions. Writing with compassion, humor, and a deft literary touch, Elias Aboujaoude, an expert on obsessive compulsive disorder and behavioral addictions, tells stories inspired by memorable patients he has treated, taking us from initial contact through the stages of the doctor-patient relationship. Into these interconnected vignettes Aboujaoude weaves his own personal experiences while presenting up-to-date, accessible medical information. Rich in both meaning and symbolism,Compulsive Actsis a journey of personal growth and hope that illuminates a fascinating yet troubling dimension of human experience as it explores a group of potentially disabling conditions that are too often suffered in silence and isolation.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93481-8
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Psychiatry by the Dumpster
    (pp. 1-38)

    George was special from day one. I can still remember Dawn, my clinic clerk, paging me at 1:45 p.m., three quarters of an hour after his first scheduled appointment, to warn me: “Oh, Dr. A., you’re gonna love this one!”

    “Please don’t tell me the patient just showed up,” I said. “How am I supposed to do a full intake in the remaining fifteen minutes?”

    “I know,” Dawn answered, “but I couldn’t just let him go. I don’t know what to say, but he’s—how should I put it?—he has his reasons for being late . . . He’s...

  5. H₂O under the Bridge
    (pp. 39-76)

    As a psychiatrist, I am used to receiving referrals from internists and primary care providers, from other psychiatrists or specialists seeking a “second opinion,” and of course, from concerned family members who sometimes have to force loved ones into my office for an evaluation against their will. But imagine my surprise at receiving a consultation request one morning from a worried . . . hairdresser!

    “Dr. A., I’m so glad I caught you,” a soft, earnest voice said. “This is Sebastian from Sebastian’s Guild Salon in San Francisco.”

    “Do I know you?” I asked.

    “No, we’ve never met before,” Sebastian...

  6. A Greek Tragedy
    (pp. 77-106)

    “Did Jane Austen turn me on to kleptomania or did kleptomania turn me on to Jane Austen? It’s a fascinating question to ponder.” With these words, Hannah, my new forty-eight-year-old patient, a comparative literature professor and Jane Austen expert, tried to recall for me the origins of her urge to steal. “I was a senior in college writing my thesis on how Jane Austen transcended the boring details of her day-to-day life to write brilliant works of literature,” she added. “I was looking in her biography for something surprising, maybe a little dark, that might have inspired her, but all...

  7. With Any Luck
    (pp. 107-136)

    I met Mr. and Mrs. Kuong at a moment of transition: before a move they were planning from California to Utah and after they had moved to California from Las Vegas. A striking Chinese American woman with porcelain-white skin and wearing a black pantsuit with a red kerchief tied around her neck, Mrs. Kuong at first glance looked more like the daughter than the extraordinarily well-preserved wife of the shuffling, graying man hiding behind her as she walked into my office, led by Dawn.

    “It is important that I start at the beginning, from point zero,” Mrs. Kuong said, not...

  8. One Eternity Drive
    (pp. 137-162)

    In retrospect, it should not have taken a comprehensive psychiatric interview or the battery of tests I put my patients through to understand Alex’s problem. Dawn could have accurately diagnosed him from three e-mails she received from him—and forwarded to me—in quick succession one morning. The first one read:


    You must have reviewed with the doctor by now the phone screen you did with me yesterday. Please e-mail me at your earliest convenience to set up an appointment with him. It’s 8 a.m. now.


    At 8:15, he wrote:


    Still no sign of life from your...

    (pp. 163-168)
    (pp. 169-170)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 171-175)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 176-176)