Kissing Doorknobs is a novel by Terry Spencer Hesser about a teenaged girl, Tara, who is afflicted with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Her condition makes her unable to socialize with her friends, act normally in public, and communicate with her family, but it still has, in some ways, a positive influence on her life.
Because of her condition, she meets a girl called Donna, whom she makes friends with because Donna thinks that she is unusual and an outcast, just like herself. They quickly become close friends, and they look out for each other. Tara stops some of her “rituals” after befriending her because she has “real things to worry about” (81), such as her habit of smoking and lies, but mostly because she has a lot of fun while she’s with her, and she forgets to perform her “rituals”. Donna becomes a very important character in her Tara’s life because she supports her and helps her through a difficult time in her life. If Tara did not have her condition she probably would not have made friends with her.
Near the end of the book, when Tara enters behaviour therapy, she meets a boy called Sam, who also has obsessive-compulsive disorder. He was mostly cured of the disease because of the behaviour therapy, and he encourages Tara to enter it, although he warns her that it will be hard for her. Sam is the first person that Tara meets that has the same condition as her, and she is excited that a cure has been found for her behaviour, so she enters the behaviour therapy. It is, though, as hard as Sam describes it, and it has a huge emotional toll on Tara. Sam encourages her and helps her through each session, and becomes a good friend to her. Tara’s condition improves, and she stops most of her rituals thanks to her behaviour therapy, and is happy that Sam encouraged her to do it, as she is glad that she is finally able to “choose not to let [OCD] control [her]” (143).
The most important positive thing that she gained from this whole experience is her newfound mental strength which resulted from her behaviour therapy and her fight against the “tyrants in her head”. She now has a stronger mind as a result of all the strain and anxiety of going through her OCD-conquered life, especially her agonizing behaviour therapy which made her think about and do the worst things and she can imagine. Now, she may be able to be more resistant to future relapses of OCD and hold back the “tyrants” if they try to invade and conquer her head again, and may even make a relapse rarer, thus helping her recover from her condition.
Tara went through a lot while she was under the influence of OCD, and the bad things that came along with it greatly outweighed the good things, but there were some good things during that time. Those few things helped her cope with her condition, and are partly the reason why she eventually enters behaviour therapy at the end of the book. This leads to her having a new hope about her condition, and the book ends there, on a hopeful note.
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