"Triggered" A Memoir of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder by Fletcher Wortmann '09

Triggered BookcoverFrom a young age, Fletcher Wortmann spent countless hours absorbed by his obsessions. In third grade, he became consumed with the idea that every nonwater substance on the planet would soon freeze. He spent hours laying plans for how he and his family would survive. Over and over, he replayed an imagined apocalypse.

Though he wouldn't be diagnosed until many years later, in retrospect Wortmann realizes the episode marked his "first full-blown bout" with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

In his memoir Triggered , Wortmann examines the origins of his anxieties and how he came to be overwhelmed by intrusive thoughts.

"One of the most ... misunderstood aspects of OCD," Wortmann tells NPR's Neal Conan, "is that many people believe that it has to involve visible physical compulsion, such as hand-washing or counting or organizing things."

After his sophomore year in college, Wortmann was diagnosed with purely obsessional obsessive-compulsive disorder - also called "pure O" - where the compulsive behaviors are entirely internal, intrusive thoughts.

"I think everyone experiences these kind of things. Your mind will just sort of settle on something really distressing and upsetting, and ... most people are able to shake it off. Unfortunately, with obsessive-compulsive disorder, the thoughts take on kind of a life of [their] own, and you begin to wonder: 'What do these mean? How can I make them go away?' "

He discusses how he gradually learned to cope with what some call the "doubting disorder."

Fletcher Wortmann was recently interviewed by Neal Conan on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" Listen here