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IT BEGAN WITH a line from the Torah: "You shall serve God with joy." A 30-year-old man took the message as a threat from his maker. He'd better study the Torah-fervently and quickly-or God would strike him dead and leave his children orphans.
Family members called Steven Brodsky, an Orthodox Jewish clinical psychologist specializing in religious obsessions, and work began last week-the week before Yom Kippur-to help the patient overcome his wild thoughts and behavior. In the past three years, Brodsky has treated about 50 people of various faiths who have obsessive religious thoughts.
The American Psychiatric Association estimates that about two in every 100 people suffer from repetitive thoughts or behavior that they can't seem to control. It is not clear how many obsessive- compulsive disorder sufferers have a religious theme as their main symptom, but Brodsky says it is not uncommon.