Triggered: A Memoir of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

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Macmillan, Mar 27, 2012 - Biography & Autobiography - 272 pages
3 Reviews


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."


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TRIGGERED: A Memoir of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Uneven but ultimately satisfying memoir of a young author's OCD.Growing up in Massachusetts, comic-book fan and video-game aficionado Wortmann managed to keep his undiagnosed obsessive-compulsive ... Read full review

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“Triggered” offers an opportunity to experience a young author who appears to be mastering his craft before your eyes. His prose and clever wit pull you along as you anticipate almost greedily what comes next. Yet I often found myself going back and re-reading passages just to make sure I didn’t miss anything.
The book is also an education about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder which, at least for me (and I expect for many others) is a little known mental health disorder that is both misunderstood and misdiagnosed, particularly among children and young adults. The author, a recent graduate of Swarthmore College, suffered from this malady through childhood but was not diagnosed until he became a young adult. By itself, the needless suffering that he (and undoubtedly many other young people) undergo should make Triggered required reading for any parent with a child suffering from mental health maladies of the type that Wortmann so eloquently describes.
But in the end, "Triggered" is most admirable because it is a story of a young man who faces his most horrific nightmares and, through the painful process of Exposure Response Therapy, makes them blink. The fact that Wortmann is able to take us along on his journey with poignancy and even humor makes the experience of reading “Triggered” a rewarding one that left me, like Wortmann, “cautiously optimistic.”


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Germfree Adolescence
Boys and Girls in Academia
Losing It
Mad Love
Countdown to Final Crisis
Living in Bethlehem
Midsummer 9
Songs from the Big Chair
Chrono Trigger

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About the author (2012)

FLETCHER WORTMANN was born and raised in Winchester, MA. He graduated from high school in 2005, and in 2007, Fletcher was diagnosed with crippling obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). After receiving treatment at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA, he went on to receive his Bachelor's degree in English Literature from Swarthmore College in 2009; he wrote his senior thesis on the evolution of the superhero in American culture. Fletcher has been variously employed as a college Writing Instructor, "Party Associate," SAT Tutor, record store clerk, and farm-stand hand. He lives and writes in Boston, MA.

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