Friday 11 April 2014

The Man Who Couldn't Stop by David Adam

Have you ever had a strange urge to jump from a tall building, or steer your car into oncoming traffic? 
You are not alone. In this captivating fusion of science, history and personal memoir, writer David Adam explores the weird thoughts that exist within every mind, and how they drive millions of us towards obsessions and compulsions. 
David has suffered from OCD for twenty years, and The Man Who Couldn’t Stop is his unflinchingly honest attempt to understand the condition and his experiences. 
What might lead an Ethiopian schoolgirl to eat a wall of her house, piece by piece; or a pair of brothers to die beneath an avalanche of household junk that they had compulsively hoarded? 
At what point does a harmless idea, a snowflake in a clear summer sky, become a blinding blizzard of unwanted thoughts? 
Drawing on the latest research on the brain, as well as historical accounts of patients and their treatments, this is a book that will challenge the way you think about what is normal, and what is mental illness. 
Told with fierce clarity, humour and urgent lyricism, this extraordinary book is both the haunting story of a personal nightmare, and a fascinating doorway into the darkest corners of our minds.

The Man Who Couldn't Stop : OCD, and the True Story of a Life Lost in Thought by David Adam was published by Picador (Pan Macmillan) on 10 April 2014.

How many times have you said 'Oh, I'm a little bit OCD about that'?  Maybe, like me, you like to hang out the washing using certain coloured pegs for certain garments, or maybe you have to have all your Coca Cola cans facing the same way in the fridge (just like David Beckham). Most of us have a few little rituals that we carry out, but most of us don't let the thoughts about our rituals, or what would happen if we didn't do them, take over our lives. Most of us don't have OCD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, we just have a couple of little quirks.

David Adam is a science journalist, he has suffered from OCD for twenty years.  He is tortured by his thoughts, he is convinced that he will catch AIDS.  He is also a very intelligent man who realises that his thoughts and actions are intrusive and are affecting his daily life far too much.

The Man Who Couldn't Stop is a mix of personal story from David Adam, the results of research from all over the world, and stories of actual patients and how they have reacted to treatment.  The author perfectly blends the scientific, the medical and the real life cases together to produce an easy to read, informative, at times sad, and often humorous  look at this peculiar illness that affects so many people.

Cases of OCD have been reported for centuries, some were dismissed, some were treated - often with surgical interventions which are recounted here in much detail, and will shock. Like all mental illnesses, debates and discussions will rage for many years to come. It is interesting to read the evidence for the scientific causes, the medical causes and the possible genetic causes of this illness, which, putting aside the quirky and the funny, really can be life-changing and so debilitating for sufferers.

Accessible, well-written and fascinating, The Man Who Couldn't Stop is an honest account of living with OCD combined with research and historical fact.

My thanks to Camilla from Pan Macmillan who sent my copy for review.

Dr David Adam is a writer and editor at Nature, the world’s top scientific journal. Before that he was a specialist correspondent on the Guardian for seven years, writing on science, medicine and the environment. During this time he was named feature writer of the year by the Association of British Science Writers, and reported from Antarctica, the Arctic, China and the depths of the Amazon jungle.

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1 comment:

  1. This sounds really fascinating. I've always been interested by OCD and have thought more than once about writing a book with an OCD character. Mental helath is one of my favourite book themes, in general.