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Medical Minute 11-09: Pushed to the Extreme: Three Years in Hell: OCD

By: Ramin Khalili Email
By: Ramin Khalili Email

Stacking dishes is a 10-minute chore, but just 11 years ago it would've taken Ed Zine all day. In the late 1990's, Ed spent three years alone in his basement, in Hell, suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder or "OCD".

"Walking to the bathroom - that might have been 5 feet across downstairs from where I used to live ... that became a 7.5 to 10 hour trek just to do that," said CG Ed Zine.

His mother died from cancer in 1982, and an aunt and uncle followed a few years later. This home video is him coping, trying to control the one life that remained - his own.

"There's an interesting study that shows that the thoughts that people with OCD have are exactly the same as the thoughts that rest of us have," said Stephen P. Whiteside, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic.

The normal thoughts in Ed's brain grew too severe for him to control, common in OCD patients. Ed dealt with hoarding - a mental disease where he refused to throw out trash. Ed even used to move through the house walking the same way backward as he did forward.

"I'd have to step back exactly perfectly - fluently - the way my arms were held - backwards - if I were to walk to the bathroom," said Ed Zine.

Stressful life events are OCD's top risk factor, along with genetics and amazingly pregnancy. Complications include depression, anxiety, and inability to leave home, which Ed didn't.

"What it does is it ... it takes away from your feeling of a human being ... inside - your worth - your value," he said.

The only thing that helped cure him was his fear of dishonoring family and friends. So one-day Ed simply faced his fears and left his basement: His doctors had never seen anything like it. After - he and his doctors helped write this book for others, Ed got married, had a family.

"I understand that's ... logically - you can't control things - control is an illusion," said Ed Zine.

Ed still falls back to old habits occasionally - counting and checking. Still - losing control of the need to control was a Godsend for him.

McLean Hospital (An Affiliate of Harvard Medical School)Mailstop 115115 Mill StreetBelmont, MA 02478Email : mcleaninfo@mclean.harvard.edu


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