Inside the World of OCD

December 25, 2012

Jennifer says that for the past 20 years, she has been suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, and that it rules every aspect of her life. Watch as Jennifer demonstrates how everyday tasks — like preparing food, cleaning furniture and just leaving the house — have become exhausting rituals that take her up to 13 hours to complete. Jennifer reluctantly travels to Dr. Phil with the help of her best friend, Howard. “I don’t want to live with OCD, but I don’t know if I know how to live without it,” Jennifer confesses.Dr. Frank Lawlis, chairman of the Dr. Phil Advisory Board weighs in on Jennifer’s condition and offers treatment. Can she leave her comfort zone in order to get help? Then, Pam and Jack say their 25-year-old son, Michael’s, OCD is so severe that they’re afraid to leave him alone. They say Michael often goes into a trance — the longest lasting 21 hours — during which he screams, curses and punches himself repeatedly. Pam and Jack say they’ve tried multiple treatments and more than 10 different medications, but nothing has helped. Watch as Michael visits leading neuroradiologist Dr. Bradley Jabour, who performs a brain scan to see what’s going on inside Michael’s head. See the fascinating results, and hear Dr. Jabour’s plans for Michael — and Jennifer. Plus, meet Bob, who says Dr. Jabour’s program saved his life.








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JenniferHoward, Jennifer's best friendDr. Frank Lawlis, Chairman of Dr. Phil Advisory BoardMichaelJack, Michael's fatherPam, Michael's motherDr. Bradley Jabour, Chief of Neuroradiology/CEO-Founder Smart Brain and HealthMichael's brain scan resultsBob, in remission from OCD

Jennifer’s Rituals

Jennifer says her OCD has destroyed her quality of life. She says she typically wakes up late in the afternoon, after exhausting herself with her daily rituals, which can take up to 13 hours to complete. She has a checklist that she runs through each day, in the exact order — and when she completes a task, she says she second guesses herself, because it doesn’t feel like she’s finished it.

“I believe that I have a problem with food,” Jennifer admits. She typically weighs and measures everything repeatedly to make sure she has an exact amount of food. If she overestimates, she’ll often throw out any excess food, just to make sure it’s at a certain weight.

“I feel like everything I do is dictated by the OCD," Jennifer says, after taking five hours to leave the house to go to the gym. "Everything is scheduled and rigid and regimented, and the moment I step out of those boundaries, then I feel out of control, but it doesn’t make any sense, because the OCD is the thing that’s out of control.” She says she realizes the illness is ruining her life, but she’s afraid she’d feel lost without it.

Jennifer’s best friend, Howard, says he supports her financially and emotionally and that he's afraid he'll lose her if she doesn't get help. “My greatest fear is that she’s going to give up hope, that she will finally just feel that there’s nothing worth living for,” he says.

Jennifer shows what a typical day is like for her, including how the simple task of cracking an egg becomes a time-consuming frustration.

Jennifer explains how difficult it was to travel to Dr. Phil.

Dr. Phil introduces Jennifer to Dr. Frank Lawlis, chairman of the Dr. Phil Advisory Board and author of Retraining the Brain. Dr. Lawlis offers to help with Jennifer’s treatment.

Michael’s Nightmare

Pam and Jack say when their 25-year-old son, Michael, was 13, he went to bed one night and woke up a completely different person. He was eventually diagnosed with OCD, which they say is now so severe that they’re afraid to leave him alone. “People tell me, ‘The only thing you can do is have him committed,” Jack says.

Pam says she reached out to Dr. Phil as a last resort. “My doctor finally said, ‘I give up. I don’t know what to do for you anymore,’” she says. “I’m not giving up on this kid. I love him too much.”

Home video shows how Michael’s severe OCD affects his everyday life. And, his parents explain their exhaustive efforts to find an effective treatment.

Michael describes what he feels during his trances. “I’m aware of everything around me. I can hear everything. I can see everything.”

Neuroradiologist Dr. Bradley Jabour shows what's going on inside Michael's brain. Is there hope for treatment?

See how Dr. Jabour’s treatment works. And, meet one of his patients, Bob, who is in remission from his OCD.


Dr. Jabour and Smart Brain and Health offer to treat Michael and Jennifer at their facilities in Los Angeles, and Dr. Phil offers to take care of their living arrangements during that time. Both graciously accept.

“Where do I sign?” Jennifer quips.

“You’ve saved my whole entire life,” Michael tells Dr. Phil, with tears in his eyes.