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For me this is an excellent book on treating your panic disorder. Self-published, strangely, it is probably the best I've come across. Panic disorder is such a terrifying and disabling condition and hopelessly misunderstood by most people who don't suffer from it, of whom I am one, I am relieved to say. In this book the author describes several phases for treatment. The first is the paradoxical approach described by, amongst others, Viktor Frankl in Man's search for meaning whereby the more you try, for example to go to sleep, the less likely you are to go to sleep. So here McDonagh suggests that when you are in a potentially panic-inducing situation, you deliberately try to panic. This may, in paradoxical fashion, prevent the panic attack arriving, but even if not it gives you a greater feeling of control than when you fight against it arriving … and lose.
In the second phase he suggests that instead of fighting – and losing – the battle with your increasing panic, you invite it in, in a non-judgemental way. So, reminiscent of mindfulness techniques, you simply observe the effects, secure in the knowledge that "a panic attack never killed anybody". This, in my terms at least, prevents the 'second arrow' of the feelings of helplessness and enfeeblement associated with having 'yet another' panic attack.
In the third phase you challenge ‘panic' to do its worst to achieve whatever it is you are most frightened of it achieving: stopping your heart, making you go mad, making you scream out in public, making you cry, making you lose control of your bodily functions, or whatever. But, in the spirit of what we now call hypothesis testing or a behavioural experiment, you give it a fixed time to achieve this. He suggests 21 seconds but invites you to count as slowly as you like, rather like when warning a miscreant child.
McDonagh writes with empathy, encouragement and conviction, with the result that the whole package adds up to an empowering and energising book for anybody who wants to tackle their panic disorder constructively.
Dr William Davies, Consultant Psychologist
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