Hello and welcome to this course book on overcoming harm-focused obsessive-compulsive disorder or simply Harm OCD, that intends to help you manage your Harm OCD. I have tried to maintain correctness of this book with the least amount of jargon. The language in the book is simple and even non-native English speakers should be able to understand it. My intention is to talk to you, talk you through your struggles, and walk with you in your recovery journey rather than preach to you from the sidelines.

This course book is designed to make your caregivers, friends, family members and loved ones (referred to simply as family or family members going forward) more aware of Harm OCD. Even though OCD afflicts one person, the effect it can have on family cannot be understated.  Family members are often clueless on how to help, leading them to enable and thereby strengthen your Harm OCD. Or they may end up pushing you away out of frustration. Breakups, ruined relationships, social isolation and divorces are common where one person has OCD in the family. Hence, getting a thorough understanding of how Harm OCD works is critical even for the family.

Through this course book, you will learn that the power to not do the compulsions is in your hands. You will learn ways to identify your various triggers, obsessions and compulsions, and how to overcome this disorder through response prevention, while managing your anxiety. In this book, I provide a step-by-step process to understand and implement exposure and response prevention (ERP), along with the application of the principles of acceptance and mindfulness, to help you deal with your Harm OCD.

What I present to you may be simple to understand, but is not simple to implement, especially if you are trying to implement it on your own. Hence, there are two critical requirements if you want the course book to work for you. One, do not just read the course book to complete it and tick off one more book you have read on Harm OCD (as a false sense of accomplishment that you are doing something to get better). OCD does not get better even if you read all the books ever written on it, just as you won’t learn to play lawn tennis even if you read all the books there are on the subject. Hence, read to understand. Internalize. If you do not understand anything, re-read. Read as many times as you need to understand it well. If anything is still unclear, reach out to me on [email protected] and I will attempt to clarify your doubts.

Two, practice, practice, practice! If you only read the course book cursorily, without practicing, it will help in getting a different perspective but may not help much in improvement of your symptoms. The magic of this book is in the implementation.

You will also find practice worksheets at the end of some of the chapters. Use them well. Use them extensively and keep monitoring yourself. Print the worksheets and make additional copies, when needed. Constant practice using the worksheets will help more than mere reading may. If you can get your family involved in the process, even better. Their involvement may serve as an encouragement that you are not alone in this journey and may give you the support you need to keep practicing in a non-judgmental environment.

There is an MS-Excel workbook called ‘Worksheets for Harm OCD’ that has all these practice worksheets (in case you prefer the digital version), six psychometric tests (not available in the course book) and a dashboard sheet that you can download from www.unshackle.in/harmocd/. (On certain devices though, the downloaded MS-Excel workbook may show up as ‘Read Only’ and you may have to click on the ‘Enable Editing’ button on your devices).

The first psychometric test is for your family to determine if any of the members accommodate your Harm OCD, and to what extent. The other five psychometric tests measure the presence and severity of your OCD, assess your mindfulness, understand your acceptance levels, check how compassionate you are towards yourself, and test your insight respectively. All these tests are self-administered and free-to-use tests. In some cases, the scores have been adapted to suit replication on a spreadsheet, without any change in the scoring methodology. Please note, however, that the tests are not to be used as diagnostic tools. The diagnosis can only be made by a mental health professional. These tests should be considered as an indicator for further checkup, or for confirmation of a pre-existing diagnosis.

The last sheet in the Worksheets file is a visual dashboard. The graphical representation and the consolidated scores of five psychometric tests will show up on this sheet. Cells corresponding to a test in the Inference column will change color when the test is completed. Red is undesirable and green is desirable. Your endeavor would be to work on yourself to turn all reds and oranges into greens.

You will also find some additional reading resources at the end of some chapters that are instrumental to your recovery. I urge you to read these too and use the information provided in them.

Your commitment to implementation will make a big difference. So, do commit to the completion and extensive practice of the course. If you have the right attitude for beating your Harm OCD and are willing to put in the effort, this course book will definitely help you in your recovery process.

If you have not read the Limit of liability/Disclaimer of warranty statement before choosing this course book, it is provided as Additional Resource 1.1. Kindly read through it now. Also, please provide me your details in the form appended.

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