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Unformatted text preview: e vernacular of the disorder, and before I learned to fight these urges, many a manager heard from me. . . . Forget the tabletop, my friend Matt S. tells me; it’s what’s on top of the table, and precisely where, that really matters. Mr. S. is a 39-year-old lawyer in Fort Worth with order compulsions. To enjoy a meal he needs to separate the salt and pepper shakers, and, ideally, place a napkin holder or other divider midway between them. . . . Some of our other concerns may seem familiar. I imagine most diners, for example, have noticed and perhaps even struggled to remove white detergent spots that can sometimes be seen on silverware. But few, I suspect, have gone to the lengths Jared K. has to get rid of them. Mr. K. is a 24-year-old research assistant living outside of Boston who has obsessive fears of contamination. . . . Last year he visited a Chinese restaurant with ComFun6e_Ch04_C!.indd 124 several friends, one of whom pointed out that their silverware was spotted and seemed dirty. Mr. K. collected all the utensils at the table and attempted to sterilize them by holding them above a small flame at the center of a pu-pu platter, quickly attracting the attention of their waiter. . . . As part of my harm obsession, one of my concerns is that germs from my mouth will hurt others. Although I try to keep my fingers away from my lips and their germs while I’m eating, I’m rarely successful (it’s not as easy as it sounds). By the end of the meal I believe that my hands are contaminated. The problem is that I need them to scribble my signature on the check. If I’m lucky, I will have remembered to bring my own pen; if not, I may feel compelled to “table-wash” my hands, a little trick I developed over the years: I use the condensation on the outside of a cold water glass to rinse off the germs. . . . Once the check is signed, I must be sure that it is really signed. At my worst, I have opened and closed the vinyl check holder again and again, seeing my signature each time, yet unable to feel certain. I’ve left the table, only to return to check again. And again. . . . [Postscript: After exposure and response prevention therapy] Today I travel extensively, sharing my recovery story and working with groups like the Obsessive Compulsive Foundation to raise awareness. . . . I wind up eating in a lot of restaurants. I can honestly say I’m starting to enjoy it. In fact, while I still like ice water with my meal, I often find myself drinking from the glass, not washing with it. Now when I say check, please, I’m simply asking for my bill. /Corbis n this February 2008 New York Times article, Jeff Bell, a radio news anchor, describes the ordeal that he and other people with similar obsessive-compulsive disorders confront whenever they go to a restaurant for a “pleasurable” night out. Claire Artman/zefa I Jeff Bell, “When Anxiety Is at the Table,” New York Times, February 6, 2008. Copyright © 2008 New York Times Company. Reprinted by permission of PARS International, Inc. All rights reserved. 1...
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This note was uploaded on 01/07/2013 for the course PSY 270 taught by Professor Hall during the Spring '05 term at University of Phoenix.

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