Released on 10 April 2014.

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The Man Who Couldn't Stop

OCD and the true story of a life lost in thought

3.83 based on 1758 ratings & 212 reviews on

2015 Short-listed

Royal Society Winton Science Book Prize


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

In the media

Adam recounts his journey with humour and detachment
Literary Review
[An] engaging, exhaustively researched neuro memoir, a blend of brain science and personal history
Evening Standard
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