Review: Triggered by Fletcher Wortmann


Title: Triggered
Author: Fletcher Wortmann
Expected Publication Date: March 27, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Number of Pages: 256

"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.

ARC copy of the book received from the publisher through NetGalley.  

When I came across this book on NetGalley, first thing that caught my eye was OCD: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This instantly made me want to read it, but then I had to think about it for a moment because it hit too close to home. I was afraid that what I might find in it would 'trigger' my disorder even more, but in the end, the urge to read about someone who's going through the same thing won. In the end, I'm glad I didn't chicken out and read it because it showed me that it's possible to live with OCD, and one doesn't have to curl up in a ball and stay like for the rest of their life.

When you mention OCD to those who are more fortunate than you are, they seem to instantly think of Jack Nicholson's character in As Good As It Gets: the guy who keeps packages of soap in his bathroom cabinet and opens a different one every time he has to wash his hands, which is very often. Then, of course, the next thing they notice is, "you don't wash your hands all the time," or, "dirty doesn't bug you as much." It's true that the instant hand-washing and intolerance toward that are symptoms of OCD. Yet, they're not the only ones or the must-haves of the disease.

As soon as I started reading, I found out that Wortmann doesn't show the hand-washing symptoms either. This led doctors to misdiagnose him with depression, until it was found out that he was struggling with OCD. It is a serious disease, but I was glad the author chose a tone that wasn't depressing. From the very beginning, he made OCD feel like something that can be lived with and lived well with. It's amazing to see how far he's come, thinking the world will end in his youth and then being able to make fun of it as he was writing the book.

This made Triggered fun to read, believe it or not. Yet he doesn't just make you laugh as he shares his struggles with the disease; he also makes the reader learn and think. I found his sharing his stories to be very insightful. I was glad and really applauded him on sharing even the embarrassing ones because most of the time those are the hardest to deal with. And the best part is hearing all this from a person who's dealt with it all, instead of some snobbish psychologist who tells you how to even though you can't.

I believe that whether or not you suffer from OCD, you can enjoy this book. Especially those who enjoy memoirs will definitely like this one.

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.”

The book will be released on March 27, 2012. You can check out the author's blog at Also Sprach Fletchathustra, and here's the Amazon link.

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