When Judith Rapoport's book The Boy Who Couldn't Stop Washing was published in 1989, it received a great deal of media attention. Dog owners and veterinarians who had heard about the book, through news reports, began pointing out that OCD was similar to a condition found in dogs called acral lick dermatitis (ALD). Nicholas Dodman, a veterinarian, describes what happened:

ALD was first recognized as a veterinary equivalent of OCD by dog owners and veterinarians who, in response to the publicity surrounding Rapoport's popular book, The Boy Who Couldn't Stop Washing, noticed the striking similarity between their dogs' and cats' behavior and the subject of the book. Other animal "stereotypies" then began to be described as compulsive behaviors.1

In ALD, dogs "compulsively" groom themselves by repetitively licking their limbs. Similar repetitive behaviors or stereotypies are also found in other animals. So the media attention surrounding Rapoport's book led to a new animal model for OCD, and to new evidence that the illness has a biological root.

1Nicholas H. Dodman, "Veterinary Models of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder," in Michael Jenike et al., eds., Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders: Practical Management (St. Louis: Mosby, 3rd ed., 1998), 330.


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