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OU on the BBC: Growing Children - OCD

Updated Monday, 20th August 2012

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is the focus of the second episode of Growing Children 

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Laverne Antrobus and guests Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: BBC In this powerful film, child psychologist Laverne Antrobus explores the complicated and often misunderstood condition of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Laverne shows that new research is unlocking a greater understanding of how the OCD brain works and how it develops in a different way.

With some incredible access Laverne also follows a teenager with OCD through his dramatic and moving treatment sessions at the Maudsley Hospital, giving us a real insight into the daily battle of living with OCD.

Laverne embarks on a quest to discover why anxiety is part of human nature and what happens when it goes too far. At King's College London she conducts a test to measure her response to threats and the theory that anxiety has evolved as a defensive response. Laverne also confronts her own fear of spiders at an anxiety workshop where she is made to handle a tarantula.

Laverne then examines the different way that brains of children with OCD actually develop. Why are they so over-anxious? What has happened? A combined team of scientists are carrying out one of the most comprehensive studies into the OCD brain, giving Laverne a chance to gain a unique understanding into the condition. As the scans from this research are fully analysed, they are producing some extraordinary three-dimensional images of a key area of the brain thought to be affected by OCD - the basal ganglia.

Jonathan's life is so dominated by his OCD that he has resorted to a five-day therapy for teenagers and their families in cognitive behavioural therapy at the Maudsley hospital in south London. Laverne has a privileged insight into this treatment as she follows the family through the course of an emotional week. She sees how the Maudsley team tackles OCD head on by making people with the condition confront their fears. In some dramatic scenes Laverne witnesses Jonathan being given a knife to handle and asked to stand on the edge of a train station platform in order to face his irrational thoughts.

The exact cause of OCD is still not known, but in this powerful and heartwarming film Laverne finds out the new clues pointing to its origin. We also gain a true understanding of how it can affect people and the life-changing treatments that are on offer.

This episode of Growing Children is first shown on BBC Four, 9.00pm on Monday, 20th August 2012. For further broadcast details and to watch online where available, please visit


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