David Adam

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The Man Who Couldn't Stop

book | Non-Fiction | 2014
World → Macmillan

OCD and the True Story of a Life Lost in Thought

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.

Rights

Macmillan manages the translation rights for The Man Who Couldn't Stop

Translation Rights Sold

Chinese Complex
Taiwan
Athena Press
Chinese Simple
World
Foreign Language Teaching & Research Publishing (FLTRP)
Czech
World
Portal
German
World
DTV
Korean
World
Interpark
Polish
World
Jagiellonian University Press
Portuguese
Brazil
Editora Objetiva
Thai
World
Kledthai
Turkish
World
Pegasus
Media
The Man Who Couldn't Stop
The Man Who Couldn't Stop
Reviews

Riveting, at times disturbing, but always enlightening [...] For all the impressive marshaling of information, it is Adam’s own story of his struggles with the condition [...] that is the most captivating aspect of this impressive work. Adam clearly shows both the devastating impact our thoughts can have when they turn against us, and how science is helping us fight back.

Booklist (starred review)

The most comprehensive and compassionate book on OCD to date

Los Angeles Times

Adam, an award-winning science writer and editor at the journal Nature, is uniquely placed to examine the genetic, evolutionary, psychological, medical and ‘just plain unfortunate’ possible causes of OCD. He does so with vigour, sharp analysis, compassion and occasional humor... A clear-sighted and eminently accessible account... The Man Who Couldn’t Stop is a fundamentally important book.

Helen Davis
The Sunday Times

An obsessive read and one with heart

People Magazine

In a wide-reaching discussion that spans the spectrum of obsession, Nature editor David Adam strikes an impressive balance between humor and poignancy, and between entertaining and informing. Adam seamlessly moves between personal stories of his own struggles with OCD and case studies of other people with the disorder [...] while his smooth prose ensures an enjoyable read.

Publishers Weekly

The most comprehensive and compassionate book on OCD to date

Los Angeles Times

Riveting, at times disturbing, but always enlightening [...] For all the impressive marshaling of information, it is Adam’s own story of his struggles with the condition [...] that is the most captivating aspect of this impressive work. Adam clearly shows both the devastating impact our thoughts can have when they turn against us, and how science is helping us fight back.

Booklist (starred review)

The mental-disorder memoir — mixing first-person confessional, scientific survey and cultural history in varying doses — has become its own genre, and works such as Elizabeth Wurtzel’s Prozac Nation, Andrew Solomon’s The Noonday Demon and most recently Scott Stossel’s My Age of Anxiety set a high standard. In The Man Who Couldn’t Stop, Adam more than meets it, writing with honesty, compassion and even humor about a malady so often stigmatized and caricatured.

Carlos Lozada
Washington Post

Adam is a companionable Virgil, guiding the reader through the hellish circles of the disorder, explaining scientific concepts in clear, nontechnical prose [...] For sufferers, the thirst for relief from intrusive thoughts and compulsions can be unending and, ultimately, unquenchable. David Adam’s book should provide them with consolation (you are not alone) and hope (he’s much better now)—and it provides all readers with a fascinating glimpse of an unusual but enduring form of psychopathology.

Scott Stossel
New York Times Book Review

Fascinating . . . one of the best and most readable studies of a mental illness to have emerged in recent years . . . [Adam] certainly enlightens, even entertains. While OCD might seek a false order in a messy world, the book itself doesn't fall into the same trap. This is what makes it such an honest and open and, yes, maybe life-changing work. Matt Haig
Observer

Combines a scientific account of OCD from ancient times to the most recent research with passages of tenderly written memoir . . . The hypochondriac in us all is invariably gripped by a colourful medical vignette, and Adam’s narrative is punctuated with them. The story of his own OCD makes a moving counterpoint to the complex and occasionally lurid history of the disorder and its treatments . . . As his book so graphically demonstrates, the inside of the human mind is a stranger place than we who think of ourselves as “normal” would ever care to admit.
Telegraph

OCD remains poorly understood, widely regarded as little more than a penchant for tidy desks. David Adam’s study of the condition he has wrestled with for more than 20 years should help to change that . . . His fascinating book will prove valuable to those afflicted by OCD but also to anyone interested in the darker recesses of the mind.
Financial Times
Full Review

An insider's tour of the OCD brain . . . It has a unique voice born of first-hand observations of Adam's own changing mental processes, and his expertise as a science writer . . . Although his historical anecdotes are informative and entertaining, Adam is at his best when linking the evolution of his illness with possible scientific explanation.

Susanne Ahmari
Nature

This engaging, exhaustively researched neuro memoir, a blend of brain science and personal history, aims to debunk this popular perception of OCD and show it in its true light . . . Adam raises fascinating questions about the way our categories of thinking about the brain and the mind and about mental disorders may in themselves inhibit research. Evening Standard

An engrossing first-person study of obsessive-compulsive disorder from within and without. Kirkus Reviews
Full Review

Representation
Books
Karolina Sutton
+44 (0)20 7393 4428
Email Karolina Sutton
Translation Rights
Claire Nozieres
+44 (0)20 7393 4425
Email Claire Nozieres
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