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Triggered: A Memoir of Obsessive-Compulsive…

Triggered: A Memoir of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

by Fletcher Wortmann

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Reason for Reading: I have OCD and this short memoir looked interesting to me.

I have read over 60 books so far this year and am fortunate that it has taken me this long to come upon a book I just could not finish, but wow was this a doozy. I read 3 chapters, if one includes the lengthy introduction. During the introduction, the author warns us that this book is going to contain coarse language and that raised my first flag. I'm not a prude but swearing in narratives does irk me much more than characters swearing in dialogue. The first chapter was interesting as the author describes what OCD is and what it's like from a personal point of view, of course, the language did bother me and made me uncomfortable but it was the second chapter which I did force myself to read the whole way through that made me put the book down in disgust. Chapter 2 is simply a vicious tirade against the Catholic Church. The author actually blames Catholicism, in part, for his disorder! Being a Catholic myself I found this chapter ignorant and prejudiced. I'm willing to listen, and allow someone their opinion on my, or anyone's religion, based on the facts, but this was simply a succession of personal derogatory, untruthful opinions. As an example the first sentence of Chapter 2 contains this phrase "Catholicism ... is a repressive construct founded in existential terror, barely restrained by complex, arbitrary ritual behaviors;" While slightly further along: "The teachings of the Catholic Church were hugely influential on the development of my neuroses. Catholicism established a useful context of guilt and self-loathing that the disorder could exploit." The author lets us know he will have more to say on the subject later. I refuse to go any further into discussion about this hate-speech filled chapter (which just gets worse the further along it goes), were it about the Jewish, Muslim, or any other faith, no publisher would deem it fit to publish. Absolute rubbish. ( )
  ElizaJane | Mar 12, 2012 |
Poor, poor man. I don't mean this to sound patronising, my own mental illness probably gave me more empathy with Fletcher than most have. This is an agonising account of one person's struggle with a debilitating problem with OCD. I had no idea of the agonies and trials this illness can produce and certainly, to my dismay, held to the popular belief that it was nothing more than 'having to wash your hands/brush your teeth etc every half-hour'. How very wrong this is. For Fletcher to have got this far (and I wish him more peace in his future) is nothing short of miraculous.

Thank you Mr. Wortman for sharing your most inmost secrets with us and for producing a touching, heart-breaking book which must go some way towards bridging the link between 'normals' and those with mental illness. ( )
  Heptonj | Mar 3, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312622104, Hardcover)


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.” 

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:50 -0400)

A member of a sketch comedy group describes growing up with OCD, discussing his pop-culture obsessions, the roles of literature and Christianity in shaping his perspective, and his visit to the OCD Institute in Massachusetts.

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