Can't Just Stop

An Investigation of Compulsions

About The Book

Using in-depth case studies to explore how we grapple with compulsion in ourselves and those we love, Can’t Just Stop examines the science behind both mild and extreme compulsive behavior—“a fascinating read about human behavior and how it can go haywire” (The Charlotte Observer).

Whether shopping with military precision or hanging the tea towels just so, 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, exist life-altering disorders.

Sharon Begley’s meticulously researched book is the first to examine all of these behaviors together—from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) to hoarding, to compulsive exercise, even compulsions to do good. They may look profoundly different, but these behaviors are all ways of coping with varying degrees of anxiety. Sharing personal stories from dozens of interviewees, “Begley combines a personal topic with thoughtfulness and sensitivity” (Library Journal) and gives meaningful context to their plight. Along the way she explores the role of compulsion in our fast-paced culture, the brain science behind it, and strange manifestations of the behavior throughout history.

Can’t Just Stop makes compulsion comprehensible and accessible, with “fresh insight that could fundamentally alter how we think of, and treat, mental illness going forward” (Publishers Weekly).

About The Author

© Kayana Szymczak

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); Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain; and The Mind and the Brain (with Jeffrey Schwartz). She has received numerous awards for communicating science to the public.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (February 2017)
  • Length: 304 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781476725840

Browse Related Books

S&S eDWO

Raves and Reviews

"Compelling...One of the strengths of this book is Begley’s rigorous clarity about her subject matter...Begley takes us on a tour of compulsions through history and the fascinating transition as they moved from being seen as a religious phenomenon to being regarded as a medical illness...[A] fine work."
The Washington Post

"Begley, a senior writer at The Boston Globe’s life sciences publication Stat, is among the best there is at translating complex science for a general audience. On the whole, Can’t Just Stop is fast-paced and engaging without being simplistic, and Begley shows admirable restraint in eschewing news-you-can-use prescriptions for how to improve your productivity or otherwise better your life."
The New York Times Book Review

"A fascinating read about human behavior and how it can go haywire."
The Charlotte Observer

"In this fascinating read, Begley combines a personal topic with thoughtfulness and sensitivity. Recommended for anyone interested in learning more about compulsive behavior."
Library Journal

"Begley's final chapter on brain function in the compulsive mind contains fresh insight that could fundamentally alter how we think of, and treat, mental illness going forward."
Publishers Weekly

"[Begley's] captivating, accessible anecdotes of individual cases lead to unforgettable scenarios."
Kirkus Reviews

"Begley interweaves compelling historical case studies with the long march of medical and neuroscientific understanding."
Nature

"Sharon Begley has done us all a service, writing about compulsion without writing about disease and offering a new perspective on a phenomenon that is common if not universal. People troubled by their own compulsive behavior will appreciate her nuanced and balanced approach and perhaps come away with a new understanding of themselves."
—Gary Greenberg, The Book of Woe: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry

"Sharon Begley is the liveliest science writer around. Can't Just Stop offers both a state-of-the-science look at compulsions (and who doesn't have some?) and a delightful read."
—Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

"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 behavior. A fascinating peek into the human mind in our age of anxiety."
—David Kessler, author of Capture: Unraveling the Mystery of Mental Suffering

"At once fascinating and compassionate, funny and informative, this volume should be on the bookshelf of every psychiatrist, and on the nightstand of anyone who enjoys absorbing and incisive writing."
—Joel Gold, M.D., author of Suspicious Minds: How Culture Shapes Madness

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images