Sharon Begley examines the whole spectrum of compulsive behaviour, and explains how even the most mild of compulsions can signify anxiety.
'Filled with emotionally resonant stories, Can't Just Stop helps us understand not only the underpinnings of some forms of mental illness, but also the everyday worries that drive so much of our behaviour. A fascinating peek into the human mind in our age of anxiety.' - David Kessler, author of Capture: Unraveling the Mystery of Mental Suffering
Do you check your smartphone continuously for messages? Or perhaps do the weekly shop with military precision? Maybe you always ensure the cutlery is perfectly lined up on the table?
Compulsion is something most of us have witnessed in daily life. But compulsions exist along a broad continuum, and at the opposite end of these mild forms are life-altering disorders.
Sharon Begley's meticulously researched book is the first of its kind to examine the science behind both mild and extreme compulsive behaviour; using fascinating case studies to understand their deeper meaning and reveal the truth about human compulsion - that it is a coping response to varying degrees of anxiety.
Through the personal stories of dozens of interviewees exhibiting behaviours such as OCD, hoarding, compulsive acquiring, exercise or even altruism, Begley employs genuine compassion and gives meaningful context to their plight. Along the way she explores the role of compulsion in our fast paced culture, the neuroscience behind it, and strange manifestations of the behaviour throughout history.
CAN'T JUST STOP makes compulsion comprehensible and accessible, exploring how we can realistically grapple with it in ourselves and in those we love.
Sharon Begley is the senior science writer at STAT, the life sciences publication of The Boston Globe. She previously worked at Reuters, Newsweek, The Daily Beast and The Wall Street Journal. She is the author of Can't Just Stop, The Emotional Life of Your Brain (with Richard J. Davidson), The Plastic Mind and The Mind and the Brain (with Jeffrey Schwartz). She has received numerous awards for communicating science to the public.