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.
Shortlisted for the Royal Society Winton prize
Winner of the MJA Tony Thistlethwaite award
Winner of the IOCDF Illumination Award
Shortlisted for British Psychological Association Book of the Year
New York Times science bestseller
Dr David Adam is the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Man Who Couldn't Stop and an 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.
Clear-sighted and eminently accessible ... a fundamentally important book that will bring a breath of fresh understanding to sufferers - as well as mental-health professionals, and family and friends of anyone who exhibits symptoms of OCD. I urge anyone to buy it. It will make you think again
A fascinating study of the living nightmare that is obsessive compulsive disorder ... one of the best and most readable studies of a mental illness to have emerged in recent years ... an honest and open and, yes, maybe life-changing work
Observer - Matt Haig
Combines a scientific account of OCD from ancient times to the most recent research with passages of tenderly written memoir
The Man Who Couldn't Stop is quite simply book of the year, on living with OCD: just buy it now
Superb... A brave and helpful contribution to deepening our understanding of the intricate complexities of mental ill-health
Adam recounts his journey with humour and detachment
[An] engaging, exhaustively researched neuro memoir, a blend of brain science and personal history
This blew me away. Stunning
Guardian - Ian Sample
An insider's tour of the OCD brain, providing insight into the cultural and scientific evolution of how we view and treat a disorder that affects up to 3% of people worldwide
A captivating first-person account of how a blizzard of unwanted thoughts can become a personal nightmare. At times shocking, at times tragic, at times unbelievably funny, it is a wonderful read
A lucid, humane - only intermittently autobiographical - science book ... offers a clear history through riveting case studies and the work of key figures
David Adam, a successful writer, is also a sufferer of obsessive compulsive disorder ... He covers the history of OCD, the treatments that have been tried without success, and his experience of cognitive behavioural therapy, CBT, which was greatly helpful. A well-written, thorough account
Well-researched, witty, honest and irreverent, Adam's account proves as irresistible as his subject
Brave, funny and illuminating. The swimming pool changing room scene had me gripped with recognition as well as sympathy
Guardian - Julie Myerson, Best Books of 2014