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Compulsive Acts

A Psychiatrist's Tales of Ritual and Obsession

Elias Aboujaoude

Publication Year: 2008

In this compelling book, we meet a man who can't let anyone get within a certain distance of his nose, two kleptomaniacs from very different walks of life, an Internet addict who chooses virtual life over real life, a professor with a dangerous gambling habit, and others with equally debilitating compulsive conditions. Writing with compassion, humor, and a deft literary touch, Elias Aboujaoude, an expert on obsessive compulsive disorder and behavioral addictions, tells stories inspired by memorable patients he has treated, taking us from initial contact through the stages of the doctor-patient relationship. Into these interconnected vignettes Aboujaoude weaves his own personal experiences while presenting up-to-date, accessible medical information. Rich in both meaning and symbolism, Compulsive Acts is a journey of personal growth and hope that illuminates a fascinating yet troubling dimension of human experience as it explores a group of potentially disabling conditions that are too often suffered in silence and isolation.

Published by: University of California Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-v


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

It is a tempting cliché to say I write because I am a busy psychiatrist with a deep supply of interesting stories. But it would be more original—and more accurate—to say I am a psychiatrist because I have always written or, more precisely, because I have always wanted ...

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Psychiatry by the Dumpster

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pp. 1-38

George was special from day one. I can still remember Dawn, my clinic clerk, paging me at 1:45 p.m., three quarters of an hour after his first scheduled appointment, to warn me: “Oh, Dr. A., you’re gonna love this one!” “Please don’t tell me the patient just showed up,” I said. “How ...

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H2O under the Bridge

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pp. 39-75

As a psychiatrist, I am used to receiving referrals from internists and primary care providers, from other psychiatrists or specialists seeking a “second opinion,” and of course, from concerned family members who sometimes have to force loved ones into my office for an evaluation against their will. But imagine my surprise ...

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A Greek Tragedy

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pp. 77-106

“Did Jane Austen turn me on to kleptomania or did kleptomania turn me on to Jane Austen? It’s a fascinating question to ponder.” With these words, Hannah, my new forty-eight-year-old patient, a comparative literature professor and Jane Austen expert, tried to recall for me the origins of her urge to steal. “I was a senior in college ...

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With Any Luck

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pp. 107-135

I met Mr. and Mrs. Kuong at a moment of transition: before a move they were planning from California to Utah and after they had moved to California from Las Vegas. A striking Chinese American woman with porcelain-white skin and wearing a black pantsuit with a red kerchief tied around her neck, Mrs. Kuong at ...

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One Eternity Drive

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pp. 137-161

In retrospect, it should not have taken a comprehensive psychiatric interview or the battery of tests I put my patients through to understand Alex’s problem. Dawn could have accurately diagnosed him from three e-mails she received from him—and forwarded to me—in quick succession one morning. The first ...


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pp. 163-168

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p. 169-169

Many individuals contributed generously of their time, energy, and talent to bring this book to fruition. In particular, I am indebted to Dr. Donald Black for his meticulous reading of the manuscript and many helpful suggestions. I am also very grateful to Steve Rushton, Nona ...


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pp. 171-175

Production Notes

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p. 176-176

E-ISBN-13: 9780520934818
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520259850

Page Count: 191
Publication Year: 2008