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A Memoir of OCD

by Traci Foust

Pub Date: April 5th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4391-9250-4
Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

In her debut memoir, Foust offers a meticulously documented account of the mysteries of her OCD.

From an early age, the author was made aware of her unfounded compulsions, particularly her obsessions with syllables and snapping fingers, as well as her fear of fainting, uneven numbers and, most inconvenient of all, the sun. Her religious background only added additional pressure for normalcy, though Foust's promises “to stop stealing and touching yourself all the time” did little to convince God to vanquish her problems. Though she experienced familial support, at times this support felt wholly conditional, contingent on her ability to acclimate herself with those around her without causing too much trouble. A slew of doctors and counselors offered support as well, though Foust found the most solace in the statistics related to her condition, such as the fact that teens “spend at least 83 percent of their thought process time worrying about the way their actions will make them appear in the eyes of their friends and classmates.” Unfortunately, this sense of self-consciousness permeates the narrative, creating a bloated tome of seemingly endless detail that does little to shed new light on a familiar story. The author is at her best when she weaves the ramifications of her illness organically throughout the narrative—though often these effects become the focal point of the story, overshadowing the character herself.

Foust's work fits neatly within the genre of the mental-illness tell-all, though the lack of restraint and stylistic competence makes for a lackluster reading experience.