***AS FEATURED ON NPR'S TALK OF THE NATION***
Imagine the worst thing in the world. Picture it. Construct it, carefully and deliberately in your mind. Be careful not to omit anything. Imagine it happening to you, to the people you love. Imagine the worst thing in the world.
Now try not to think about it.
This is what it is like for Fletcher Wortmann. In his brilliant memoir, the author takes us on an intimate journey across the psychological landscape of OCD, known as the "doubting disorder," as populated by God, girls, and apocalyptic nightmares. Wortmann unflinchingly reveals the elaborate series of psychological rituals he constructs as "preventative measures" to ward off the end times, as well as his learning to cope with intrusive thoughts through Clockwork Orange-like "trigger" therapy.
But even more than this, the author emerges as a preternatural talent as he unfolds a kaleidoscope of culture high and low ranging from his obsessions with David Bowie, X-Men, and Pokemon, to an eclectic education shaped by Shakespeare, Kierkegaard, Catholic mysticism, Christian comic books, and the collegiate dating scene at the "People's Republic of Swarthmore."
Triggered is a pitch-perfect memoir; a touching, triumphantly funny, compulsively readable, and ultimately uplifting coming-of-age tale for Generation Anxiety.
Fletcher Wortmann on OCD and sex:
"If a girl accepts an invitation to help count the tiles on your bedroom ceiling, then she will probably be disappointed when she realizes you were speaking literally."
…on OCD and religion:
"I have found Catholicism and obsessive compulsive disorder to be deeply sympathetic to one another. One is a repressive construct founded in existential terror, barely restrained by complex, arbitrary ritual behaviors; the other is an anxiety disorder."
…on OCD humor:
"By the sink, I noticed a perfunctory sign warning readers to wash their hands. It was scrawled with graffiti: NO YOU CAN'T GERMS ARE UNPREVENTABLE AND INESCAPABLE."
…on the seductiveness of OCD:
"Every so often, everything will work, and you will somehow convince yourself that you are safe, and the disorder will claim credit. I had struck a bargain with the OCD. The transaction was complete. In that moment I became subservient to it."
In this well-meaning though uneven book, Wortmann, a journalist and actor who was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, admits that his life has been an agreeable one, but he can now look back and see how OCD s tentacles had wrapped themselves around him even as a young child as well as the ways in which the disorder affected his college years. He recalls his childhood, in the 1990s, as a lonely one; as a first-grader he didn t allow himself to make friends because he was so terrified of social rejection. By third grade, he had struck a bargain with his OCD, and in that moment he became subservient to it. Wortmann developed strategies for coping with OCD through high school and his college years at Swarthmore (where he published an early version of this memoir and graduated in 2009), including mastering video games and listening to David Bowie. When he became involved in sketch comedy at Swarthmore, those friends became a lifeline for him as his mental state began to degenerate and he entered McLean Hospital, near Boston, where he was diagnosed and began rounds of therapy for OCD. Although Wortmann s story could be the story of anyone with OCD, it s only after plodding through his muddy prose that we get to the moment of recognition that he and we have been seeking: that he will have this disorder until he dies, and that he is, and will, continue healing, which is enough.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Courageously funny. Insightful and painfully honest
This book can change lives and has, mine. Thanks Fletcher for a well written and very funny memoir about the pain caused by OCD and more specifically Pure O. I have lived with this condition as long as I can remember and after hearing Fletcher speak on NPR I purchased this book. The best $12.00 I've ever spent. OCD can do very strange things to a person and at times, for me, can be completely debilitating. This book nailed it! I now have two very important people in my life reading this book so they can now understand what I have lived with and am presently living with. For a sufferer of OCD and particularly obsessive thoughts it is very difficult to explain to the "non-ocd" person what one is going through. Often it is just too embarrassing or shameful to talk about. Fletcher's book brings OCD into the light and it is done with such humor that just by reading this book I am so much better off. I am grateful to be able to now hand someone this book and say to them, "this is what I mean, please read it if you want to understand." This book is a life changer for me and I'm certain if you or a loved one suffers from OCD it will be the best $12.00 you've ever spent.