Touch and Go Joe – Joe Wells
This is an autobiography of OCD written by a teenage boy. In the book, Joe comments on how the media have contributed to this skewed view of what OCD is and – despite this book being over ten years old now – this is still too often the case today. In some ways, public understanding of OCD is worse now than it was when Wells wrote this book. People really over-generalised the idea of “everyone has a bit of OCD” and instead of it being a helpful way of showing that some parts of OCD are just everyday human traits intensified, now people are casually slapping the OCD label on people who like to put their CDs in order and keep their kitchens tidy.
Overview and Main Review
Wells’ OCD initially started as an obsession around contamination and poisoning, manifesting in the most well-known of OCD actions – hand washing. The reader is then led by Wells through the increasing control his OCD had over his life and how it transformed from an obsession about poisoning to one about losing his soul.
My OCD told me (as a twisted form of logic, rather than a voice in my head) that food straight out of a packet was OK because, of course, the factories where the food is made are cleaned, especially for making food safe. However, how could I be sure that this was true for the surface that I was eating off?
Influenced by his religious upbringing, Wells began to experience obsessive thoughts over the possibility of losing his soul. He writes about how this led to compulsive tapping in patterns designed to prevent his soul being taken. What started out as simple five taps progressed to increasingly complex patterns – such as five, six, ten, six, seven, five taps – which needed to be carried out on multiple surfaces and to completion.
The book details Wells’ attempts to keep his OCD a secret from those around him, his depression as he entered his teenage years, and his pathway towards recovery through a combination of CBT and medication whilst accepting that whilst OCD is rarely cured entirely, it’s possible for him to be the one controlling the OCD and not the other way around.
If, like me, you don’t know very much about OCD then it’s not a bad book to first read on the topic. It’s easy to read, straight-forward and sets a basic foundation for further reading. Especially useful, I should imagine, for other children and young people experiencing OCD.