Articles by Azriel Hauptman

An OCD Conversation


Over the last few years, I have had many conversations about OCD with people who have called Relief for a mental health referral. Those conversations form the basis of this fabricated dialogue. OCD sufferers will find this conversation very familiar, and those who do not have experience with OCD will find it remarkable and informative. Let us now begin our discussion with Ora Chana Devora, or O.C.D. for short.

Rabbi Azriel Hauptman: Thank you, O.C.D., for making time in your busy schedule to share your story with us. Can you tell us the basic timeline of your OCD?

Ora Chana Devora: Before I begin, I would like to thank you for spreading the awareness of OCD. There are so many misconceptions about this debilitating disorder and public education can be enormously helpful.

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Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow The Secret World of Trichotillomania


Trichotillomania sounds like a spider that you might meet in an Amazon rainforest. In reality, it is a mental health disorder that is characterized by the compulsive urge to pull out one’s hair. Trichotillomania is Greek for “hair pulling madness.” It is estimated that between one and three percent of the population suffers from this terribly embarrassing disorder at some point during their lives. If we take the conservative estimate of one percent, that would mean that three million people in the United States have this disorder!

Trichotillomania is often misunderstood, so let us examine two anecdotes that can shed light on this disorder.

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A Holey Brain: How a 19th Century Mishap Sheds Light on ADHD


September 13, 1848, began as a regular day for Phineas Gage, a railroad worker in Vermont. That day, his group was blasting rock as they were preparing the roadbed for railroad tracks. The procedure was to first bore a hole in the rock. Then gunpowder, sand, and a fuse were inserted into the hole. Finally, the mixture was compressed by inserting an iron rod, called a “tamping iron,” into the hole. When the fuse was ignited, the subsequent explosion would blast the rock away.

Phineas’s Accident

That day, Phineas disastrously forgot to put sand into the hole, significantly raising the risk of a premature explosion of the gunpowder. Sure enough, when Phineas banged down the gunpowder with the tamping iron, a spark ignited the gunpowder, and the iron rod flew out of the hole as fast as a rocket. The iron went through Phineas’ jaw, passed behind his left eye and then exited through the top of his skull.

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Lost Opportunities- A Glimpse into the Hidden World of Social Anxiety Disorder


The following four brief anecdotes (based on true stories) concern people who might be your friend, neighbor, or even family member. The condition being described in these anecdotes may seem somewhat benign, but when you think about it, you will realize that this disorder can cause a person to get stuck in life and miss out on much of what life has to offer.

Reuven’s Fear of People of Authority

Reuven gets extremely anxious when interacting with people of authority. When he was younger, he avoided interacting with his teachers as much as possible. As an adult, he tries to avoid interacting with his superiors at work. When problems arise at work, he tries to deal with them on his own, which does not always lead to a successful outcome. He knows that he would be more appreciated at work if he would interact with his superiors. He realizes that his anxiety is irrational, but he nevertheless feels helpless in overcoming his sense of fear.

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Entangled in Anxiety’s Web


Are you enabling your child’s anxiety? Read these stories about Baruch and Rachel and their families’ efforts to deal with their anxiety.

Baruch, 10 years old, had recently seen a boy throw up in school. Baruch started to fear that he too might get sick during school hours and throw up. Every day, he attempted to convince his parents to allow him to stay home. His mother Rivka would get him out the door by reassuring him that she was absolutely certain that he would not throw up and that if he got nervous during the day he could call home. Invariably, Boruch would call home a couple of times during the day, because he didn’t feel confident that the food he ate during snack time and lunch would stay in his stomach. Rivka would again reassure him on the phone that she was absolutely certain that he would make it through the day without throwing up.

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It’s All in Your Head When OCD Lurks in the Shadows


OCD, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. The mere mention of this disorder elicits images in our minds of excessive hand-washing, checking locks countless times, spending hours making sure that the books on the bookshelves are “just right,” and other compulsive actions. If someone is not engaging in such overt compulsive actions, you would think that he does not have OCD. The reality is quite different. It is actually quite common for a person with OCD to have covert mental compulsions.

Now, I know what you are thinking. How can a compulsive action be merely mental? If it is all in the head, what is the big deal? This is an excellent question.

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