In episode 34 of The OCD Stories podcast I interviewed Julia Gottwald. Julia is a PhD student at Cambridge University and is researching adolescent OCD. Julia is a communicator for The Cambridge Neuroscience Society and was shortlisted for The Max Perutz Science Writing Award. Julia has co-authored a book called “Sex, lies and brain scans” which is due for release in 2017.

Julia Gottwald

I chat with Julia about her research into adolescent OCD, memory, why low confidence and low self esteem can be a side effect of OCD. She expresses the need for patient centred treatment and treating adolescent OCD as a subtype, as adolescents show different results and markers from adults with OCD. Advice for parents with kids with OCD. This was a fun conversation, I learned a lot and I’m sure you will too. Enjoy.

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Show notes:

Why Julia is researching adolescent OCD (5:30)

Memory and OCD (7:20)

Julia’s study (8:30)

Testing memory training for improved treatment (13:30)

Why low confidence and self-esteem can become a side effect of OCD (17:00)

Teenage boys are two to three times as likely to develop OCD (20:20)

Why adolescents with OCD have more cognitive flexibility than adults with OCD (preliminary research results) (22:30)

Potential for adjusting treatment for adolescents (28:00)

How early OCD can start in kids (39:40)

Can we prevent OCD in kids? What helps kids with OCD? (44:20)

Good techniques to get adolescents to take part in OCD treatment and the most important thing to know about adolescent OCD (52:00)

Does OCD improve as you get older? (56:20)

The importance of research? (59:40)

Julia’s book (1:03:00)

Julia’s one piece of advice (1:06:20)

Julia’s advice for living an amazing life (1:07:00)

What Julia would have on her billboard (1:08:15)

Find out more about Julia:

Julia on Twitter – @Julia_Gottwald

Julia’s info – Cambridge University

Take part in Julia’s study –

“Sex, lies and brain scans” by Julia Gottwald (


Naomi Fineberg

Chris Baier UNSTUCK documentary

“The man who couldn’t stop” by David Adam

Kat Nicole on the podcast


This podcast is also brought to you by nOCD. Download the app for free:

To your success,

Stuart and The OCD Stories team

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Comments (4)
  1. Regarding memory, from what I know, have experienced it is not that the memory of a task vanishes, it just wasn’t in the frontline of brain, like a thought train, while I was doing a certain task the task being a routine, not-so-important falls back to lower priority. It is being completed while I am in the middle of some thought which I process as important.
    I don’t know if ocd causes memory lapse or memory lapse causes ocd. I had pretty good memory. I don’t know much but I believed somehow ocd helped me have such good memory. Recently there has been a lapse in memory downwards very fast, earlier I could remember the states of something I heard, saw in full detail such that I could recreate the whole thing back in my mind and get whatever information I needed out of it. I could remember passwords, cryptic and those based on my methods, which didn’t necessarily relied on muscle memory. I could remember random strings, licence plates, phones numbers I heard over phone. But it was all filed systematically, key thing was the link each detail had link to other, that’s how it all unrolled.

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