‘Triggered’: Temple student Fletcher Wortmann’s OCD memoir goes beyond the stereotypes

Fletcher Wortmann and his book "Triggered."

Fletcher Wortmann hates catching a “Monk” rerun even more than you do. But it’s not the show’s awkward, sporadic comedy that bothers him (at least not primarily). Rather, it’s the tidy portrayal of the detective’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as an asset on the job — as a quirky, concise tool — that touches an already overworked nerve.

“The handwashing and the counting and the organizing are the most physical symptoms of the disorder, and they’re the ones that people latch onto,” says Wortmann of depictions of OCD in popular culture. “People will say, ‘Oh you must be really good at editing or organizing.’  But the OCD bogs you down and confuses you, frustrates you. There is a terrible agony in it.”

In his surprisingly funny and almost uncomfortably honest new memoir, “Triggered,” Wortmann documents his lifelong struggles with the disorder, which was finally diagnosed when he was a student at Swarthmore University. While there is plenty of the telltale handwashing and organizing, it is clear that Wortmann’s compulsive rituals are not only highly personal and complex, but debilitating at best — and devastating on a more regular basis, especially for a teenager with a Catholic guilt complex.

Now pursuing an MFA in creative writing at Temple University, Wortmann, 25, expects to be in treatment for the rest of his life for a disease he doesn’t necessarily understand but is learning to live with — and even laugh with.

“Sometimes, humor is the only way to look at it and understand it,” he says. “There is a level of absurdity to it. This order is so frustratingly absurd that you have to have a sense of humor to survive it.” 


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