Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Dana Fennell's "The World of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder"

Dana Fennell is Professor of Sociology at the University of Southern Mississippi.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, The World of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: The Experiences of Living with OCD, and reported the following:
Page 99 puts you into the shoes, or rather the minds, of those with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). In that sense, the Page 99 Test is a success. Page 99 is actually part of a table of quotes from people with OCD. The table contrasts how they felt before they were diagnosed, to after they labeled themselves as having the disorder or were professionally diagnosed. However, the Page 99 Test is only a partial success, as this table is not representative of the book as a whole, although it does symbolize core aspects of the book.

A central purpose of The World of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is to represent the life experiences of those with OCD, from when they first started asking if what they were experiencing was “normal” or not, all the way to treatment and learning how to manage and live with the disorder. I wanted to provide a variety of examples and quotes from those with the disorder, and the table beginning on page 99 is comprised of their words.

The table reveals an important moment in the “career” or trajectory of having OCD, the relevance of labeling one’s experiences with the words “obsessive-compulsive disorder.” The gap between the two moments of time captured within the table can be years, in part because this disorder is often stereotyped and trivialized as being much more limited in nature and scope than it actually is in reality. This makes it hard for people to recognize what they are experiencing as possibly falling under the heading of “OCD.” OCD is more than being concerned with order or contamination. Obsessions are unwanted and can involve people’s worst fears, with content involving religion, harm, sexuality, and more. Compulsions can even include mental rituals.

Diagnosis is a pivotal moment that provides some people with great relief. There is an explanation for what they are going through. Others have gone through the same thing and treatments are available. On the other hand, diagnosis means they do have a mental disorder, and they can fear the stigma and trivialization that come with such. Stigma and trivialization are two sociological themes that I discuss over the course of the book.

Overall, then, the Page 99 Test is useful as it brings the reader right into the heart of the thoughts and emotions of people with OCD.
Visit Dana Fennell's website.

--Marshal Zeringue