By Jamie Bornstein
The Man Who Couldn’t Stop: OCD and the True Story of a Life Lost in Thought is one of those books I wish I read about a decade earlier in my life. That’s kind of problematic seeing as it wasn’t published until 2014. It was the book I needed but was unable to find. Still, it’s a book that falls under the category of definitely better late than never. It’s very good.
David Adam, a journalist and editor at Nature, brilliantly weaves the story of his struggle with obsessive thoughts together with a critical exploration of mental illness and its causes. It’s personal, smart, funny, substantive and a breeze to read.
Why do regular people often have urges to do bizarre, dangerous or violent things contrary to their otherwise sane sensibilities? Why do others become fixated on disturbing and unwanted thoughts, images or ideas that push everything else into the background and cause enormous anxiety and stress?
For anyone who has struggled with OCD – obsessive thoughts, compulsive behaviors, or both – or who wants to better understand someone who struggles with OCD, this book is a must read.
Sometimes you read a book to escape life and sometimes you read one to better understand it. Adam somehow manages to achieve both. His investigative journalism is intriguing and his memoir is as sincere as it is painful.
Most importantly, for me, this book was an arm around my shoulder saying, “I get it.”
Jamie Bornstein is the founder of Mental Health Safe Space. He lives in Sharon, MA with his wife and three children. He is the assistant director of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, North America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.