Thursday, February 16, 2012

Triggered by Fletcher Wortmann

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.

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. It is full of jokes and self-deprecations which makes what could have been a depressing read almost funny. As someone who has dealt with severe depression myself, I know that it is not easy to achieve that kind of levity when recounting one’s illness. This book had me laughing and frowning at the health care’s level of incompetence. It was very interesting to read about OCD and its treatment from someone who has lived his life crippled by it and not just a clinical explanation of what the disease really is all about.

The writing style is fun, although it can, sometimes, get a bit repetitive. Sometimes the voice comes through as self-pitying but I suppose that comes with the territory when writing about mental illness.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone who has suffered from any type of psychological trouble and has met with an uncaring world. Even if you haven’t, chances are you know someone close to you who has struggled with mental illness, so I do encourage you to pick it up.

1 comment:

Dalene @ A Date with a Book said...

Will definitely be adding this to be TBR list. I have family that suffers from this disease and it would be helpful to see if I can gain a better understanding.