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Raj Persaud in conversation - the podcasts

Jun 6, 2015

What can Helen teach us about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? Interview with Helen Barbour by  Dr Raj Persaud


In the new novel ‘The A To Z of Normal’ by Helen Barbour - Clare Thorpe's need for order and symmetry governs everything she owns - from tins and toiletries, to cushions and clothes. Yet she has always managed to hide the compulsions dominating her world. Until now. When long-distance boyfriend Tom proposes, her secret life begins to unravel. How can she share a future with the man she loves, if she can't even share her space? And when the only way forward brings a threat greater than any compulsive behaviour, do they have a future together at all? A poignant and humorous story of love, family, secrets...and military precision.


The book is available to order here:


Helen's blog 'The Reluctant Perfectionist' is available here:




'Clare loves her boyfriend, Tom. So why is she panic-stricken when he asks her to marry him? Because marriage means living together. And that means he will find out what she’s really like...


In The A-Z of Normal, Clare inhabits a world in which extreme order and ritual rule. She arranges her belongings with military precision. The simplest of acts have to be done in a particular manner with dizzying attention to detail. It’s no wonder that keeping her compulsive behaviour secret from those closest to her proves exhausting. She wants to change. She tries to change. As she searches for a ‘cure’, however, her life becomes ever more complicated and, at times, she appears bent on throwing away her happiness. The way she is going it seems less and less likely she will ever make things work with Tom.


Helen Barbour understands the nature of obsessive behaviour and writes about it brilliantly. She explores a tricky subject with sharpness and humour. I found myself willing Clare on, wishing she could free herself from the stranglehold of her destructive compulsions. The A-Z of Normal is a funny and poignant story. If ever anyone deserves their happy ending, it’s Clare.'


Maria Malone, Author and Ghostwriter (Cheryl Cole, Tony Hadley, Eamonn Holmes, Mica Paris),


‘I loved The A-Z of Normal, by Helen Barbour. The author uses an intelligent blend of both humour and poignancy to journey with the protagonist through something inherently challenging. It's an intriguing exploration and clever observation of a challenging and touching personal struggle that leaves the reader satisfied...and yet hungry for more by the end of the book. I hope there will be a sequel!’


Tina Cadwallader


‘The A to Z of Normal is a well-paced book which I found difficult to put down.


Clare is finding it difficult to overcome her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) behaviour before she marries Tom. Her family, each occupied with issues in their own lives, know nothing of her struggle so are unable to offer her any help. She joins a group in the hope that others suffering from OCD can offer support and there she meets Michael who creates additional problems in her life.


This captivating story explores the difficulties faced by OCD sufferers in a sensitive and humorous way.’


Carol Sampson

You can listen to the interview with Helen Barbour via a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world. Download it free from these links