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Book Reviews   |    
Triggered—A Memoir of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

by Fletcher Wortmann; New York, Thomas Dunne Books, 2012, 272 pages

Reviewed by Ulrick Vieux, D.O., M.S.
Psychiatric Services 2014; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.650112
View Author and Article Information

Dr. Vieux is medical director of Children’s Community Mental Health Services and director of Mental Health Services within Satellite Clinics, St. Luke’s–Roosevelt Hospital Center, New York City.

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Empathy is at the core of establishing a therapeutic alliance between patient and psychiatrist. The very essence of this is to see things from the perspective of the one suffering with the disorder in a respectful, noncondescending manner. Keeping this in mind, author Fletcher Wortmann’s memoir, Triggered, does a masterful job of vividly describing what it means to have the “pure-O” form of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It takes courage to be in your twenties and publish your memoir, and it is evidence of his therapeutic progress in understanding and managing his diagnosis. Mr. Wortmann uses humor in order to help the reader understand this misunderstood diagnosis.

Mr. Wortmann was diagnosed while a student at Swarthmore College and was hospitalized at the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Institute at Mclean Hospital. The reader gets a glimpse of the frustration that Mr. Wortmann went through with his illness before receiving his diagnosis. This book would be a helpful read for psychiatry, pediatrics, and family medicine residents in that it illustrates the key of how making the right diagnosis as early as possible can alleviate suffering. Mr. Wortmann skillfully illustrates the effect that medications can have and the frustration that therapy can hold: he offers unfiltered and profoundly real insight to the reader. It is hard not to be troubled by the response of his academic advisor, who in effect minimized the impairment caused by Mr. Wortmann’s diagnosis by stating that “he was relieved that, after all, it was only OCD.” Unfortunately, this is a misconception that many hold, which only exacerbates the isolation that those with OCD may feel. An activist for people with mental illness, Wortmann provides words of encouragement for sufferers of OCD with these words: “Understand that, although it may be painful, you can never not profit when you learn something about yourself.” These are the words of a man who has taken on the challenge of his diagnosis and is thriving and inspiring others along the way.

The reviewer reports no competing interests.

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