31 March, 2016

The man who couldn't stop: OCD and the true story of a life lost in thought by David Adam

At a time where you can't seem to move for self-help books, how to guides and survivor memoirs, this book stood out among the many.

What drew me to it initially was the promise of something different, and it didn’t disappoint. The author, David Adam, is a science and environmental correspondent with an impressive CV, having written for both the Guardian newspaper in the UK and science journal ‘Nature’. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a disruptive and illogical disorder which defies all reason and the fact this book was written by a scientist who himself lives with OCD nudged the book off the shelf and into my hand.

This book is a breath of fresh air and a revelation. Having lived with OCD myself for over two decades and read numerous books on the subject, this is the first book I could fully relate to, which made sense. It spoke to me on a personal level and from a very humanistic perspective about the reality of living with OCD. The strong journalistic narrative style successfully blends memoir with scientific fact. Many other books on this subject take a broad brush approach to this condition which can manifest in quite unique ways from individual to individual.

What David Adams' book provides the reader with is an unflinchingly honest depiction of what it is like to live a life with OCD, in all its idiosyncratic horror. Laying bare the intrusive, unrelenting thoughts, their origins, and the destructive - and sometimes tragic - impact these thoughts can have on the life of the sufferer and the ones they love. He manages all this with a humour, modesty and humaneness which is at once empowering and heart-breaking.  The scientific observations, historical stories, and factual anecdotes woven through the narrative are like finding shade from the sun, and serve as a welcome break from the intensity of David Adam's personal recollections.

As an examination of obsessive compulsive behaviour this books stands head and shoulders above the rest, and helps the reader to understand the behaviour within the context of the broader human experience, providing a place from which hope can spring.

Whether you are have been diagnosed with OCD yourself, or are a family member looking for insight to support a loved one, a student of psychology or simply interested in the curious nature of human behaviour, read this book!

Title: The man who couldn't stop: OCD and the true story of a life lost in thought
Author: David Adam

Reviewed by Jo C, Central City
Jo C works as a Libraries Advisor in the Service Development Team at Auckland Libraries. She enjoys reading crime fiction, most contemporary fiction and also non-fiction books that inspire creativity and open her mind! Her favourite authors are Margaret Atwood and Stephen King

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