A Memoir of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Thomas Dunne Books, 9780312622107, 272pp.
Publication Date: March 27, 2012
***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."
About the Author
Praise For Triggered: A Memoir of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder…
“'Consider...at any moment, the end of the world could occur...[Now] prove, with absolute certainty, that this is not true.' In his grimly funny memoir, Wortmann, an actor and comedy writer, describes the heart-thumping panic that came with his obsessive-compulsive disorder. Only adherence to certain elaborate rituals, he believed, could ward off annihilation. Triggered is key reading for suffferers of this debilitating condition -and for those who want to understand them.” —People magazine (3 1/2 out of 4 stars)
“Wortmann writes eloquently about his battles with OCD, constructing dense, dramatic prose to convey even the tiniest observations... his inspiring victories after successful treatment ring true.” —Kirkus Reviews
“This touching and often quite funny memoir chronicles a young life perennially on the verge of emotional or physical collapse. OCD, Wortmann notes, demands things that the world is unable to give, safety and certainty. He writes about his childhood, the social paralysis that plagued him through his high-school and college years, self-loathing and suicidal impulses, and the time spent at McLean Hospital outside of Boston, the famous psychiatric institution that has treated musician James Taylor and mathematician John Nash, among others. He comments about his "Vicious-and-Spungen-level unhealthy" relationships (as in the Sex Pistols' Sid Vicious and his out-of-control girlfriend Nancy Spungen) and the strange symbiotic relationship that he finds between his disorder and Catholicism. Though meant to help anyone who suffers from mental illness, Wortman's chronicle is also intended for the rest of us, as it sheds illuminating light on an often misunderstood and quite mysterious condition.” —Booklist (starred review)
“At times horrifying, at times terribly funny...Bravo!” —Janine Latus, New York Times bestselling author of If I Am Missing or Dead
“Fletcher Wortmann's memoir, Trigger, is an acid bath of self-revelation and recognition--incisive, sardonic, brutally honest. His defective "better angel" delivers the interior landscape of OCD with rare crystal clarity.” —Gregory Frost, Director of Fiction Writing Workshop, Swarthmore College, and author of Shadowbridge
“Jack Kerouac's On the Road for OCD and the 21st century.” —Jonathan Grayson, PhD., author of Freedom from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
“Triggered: A Memoir of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is for anyone who is or knows someone who is suffering from mental illness of any type. It is well-written by a man who could be writing fiction and mak[es] you laugh or cry depending on the moment.” —Psych Central
“This is a fascinating memoir about mental illness. It is neither maudlin nor whinny, but it portrays a life lived under the weight of a serious disease. What surprised me most about the book was the light tone the author chose to tell his story.” —NetGalley
“While the events he describes are universal (high school hell, the first kiss, first love, the crippling workload of Swarthmore academics), the complications arising from his disorder are unique, and portrayed with quirky honesty throughout his memoir.” —Swarthmore Phoenix