Review: You're Not Crazy: Living with Anxiety, Obsessions and Fetishes
Author: Laurie Singer, M.S. LMFT, BCBA
Publisher: Laurie Singer Behavioral Services
Can a hybrid of two therapy techniques, Behavioral Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, help people overcome various concerns such as panic attacks, fetishism, social phobia, agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorders, excoriation/skin-picking and conversion disorders/pseudo-seizures?
Laurie Singer is an award-winning licensed marriage family therapist who is board certified in applied behavior analysis. She holds a Master of Science degree.
In her recently published tome, You're Not Crazy: Living with Anxiety, Obsessions and Fetishes, she states she has used the combination of these two therapeutic techniques in her practice in helping people overcome their irrational behavior.
According to Singer, these therapies are "results-oriented, solution-focused processes relying on the examination of thoughts and unhealthy behaviors." Her discovery of this powerful tool enables her to address both the precipitating thought process and its behavior. Implementing this hybrid approach "provides relief from both the symptom and the problematic behavior."
As Singer explains, she has found, using this process, a disruption of the unhealthy thought-cycle of self-harm, self-risk or misconduct. It is replaced with newly learned behavior patterns.
During her many years of practice, we are informed that her discovery illustrates that building awareness of both the thought and the specific action into a treatment plan can quickly bring the sufferer's life back to a stable functioning.
The organization of the material in You're Not Crazy is well-planned with the layperson in mind.
The opening chapter defines in simple terms the disorders examined in the book. Singer aligns the following sections with the ghosts people are struggling with that cause them to live with unhealthy behavior. Case studies of anxiety-based conditions are presented. These are followed in the ensuing chapters with the therapy applicable in helping these sufferers. A further section brings the reader into the therapist's office and summarizes what transpires in the sessions. The concluding chapter of the book provides a workbook showing the simple steps to be taken to make a behavioral change.
Each scenario exposed in the book is drawn from Singer's own case studies. She connects her findings to help us understand how her two therapy approach works.
Names and details have been changed dramatically to obscure Singer's clients' and their families' identities. The confidentiality of her clients is of paramount importance to her and to her practice.
After reading these powerful narratives, what stands out is how Singer's clients bared their souls and eventually worked with her in implementing her therapeutic approach. She relates to her clients so intimately that it is impossible not to become engaged in their stories yourself.
One disorder of particular interest to me was the section dealing with agoraphobia. I have known members of my family who suffered from this anxiety disorder. Singer describes it as "a marked and disproportionate fear when confronted with at least two different situations, such as open spaces, public transport or crowded areas."
We are further enlightened that people who suffer from agoraphobia experience an immediate anxiety response, such as a panic attack, when they are exposed to the phobic stimulus. They recognize the fear as disproportionate.
To exemplify, Singer shares the story about a young woman, Andrea, who put off going to family parties fearing that she would "freak out" if the party became crowded. Andrea would rationalize not going because she did not want to ruin her parents' anniversary. Singer explains how she dealt with Andrea and her disorder. Individuals such as Andrea arrive for treatment at her office very often when they have hit rock bottom. There is a reluctance to leave their comfort zone. These sufferers hold off seeing a therapist for as long as possible, trying to manage their behavior alone. Once they have taken the first step to see a therapist, they realize that their behavior has even put others in danger.
Singer hopes her book will give anxiety-sufferers the courage to step out of their debilitating behavior and use the tools and techniques to help themselves and those around them. She informs her readers that she also experienced anxiety and has used the tools and strategies to manage it when it occurs. And even if you are not ready to start the process exposed in the book, it is okay. The book will wait for you. Come back anytime, when you are ready.