Any honest and open take on mental disorders can be a challenge to read and understand, as there is still so much that is unknown. These conditions can also be some of the scariest things to discuss, particularly for someone suffering through them, as they can open you up to harsh judgment and hard questions to which no one knows the answer. In Fused, Dr. James Manning strips away much of the mystery that still cloaks mental disorders – primarily OCD – by telling the story of his own life with the condition. Over the course of the book, through his experiences, readers see that conquering one’s own demons and understanding the root of behavior is the first step to progress and healing.
As a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and an accomplished author, Manning is an immediately credible source to discuss matters of the mind, but as someone who dealt with OCD as a child and extended issues with obsession and anxiety as an adult, his story strikes even more forcefully. His powers of recollection about his own childhood are rather incredible, and while hindsight likely colored some of the scenes into more convenient parables, the sincerity of the writing is ever-present. His descriptions of thoughts, ideas, words and events around him as being “sticky” is a unique description of OCD, the sort of simplistic and visceral explanation that could only come from the mind of a child.
Scattered among his personal reflections are hard and fast truths about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and some in-depth explorations of brain architecture and the knowledge to date about certain mental disorders and afflictions. For readers who personally struggle with these types of issues, the book is not only uplifting, but also informative, and it is equally cathartic for people who may know a close friend or loved one who suffers with OCD. The book mixes philosophy with anecdotes, science with sentiment, and by the end, readers have grown up with the author, seen him at his weakest and worst moments, and also admired him as he persevered into a successful and benevolent life.
The writing itself is well-edited and flows naturally from one chapter to the next. The sections are brief, but dense with humor, information and interesting stories, so it reads very quickly. Manning bounces from happy moments to tragic ones, and this can result in an emotional roller coaster as a reader, which isn’t an inaccurate way to walk a mile (or at least a few chapters) in the author’s shoes. Overall, this is a heartbreaking, hopeful and brave account of a complicated life that could have turned in many different directions. Fortunately, Dr. Manning was able to find a way to overcome those difficulties, and is now sharing his wisdom and experience with any who seek it.
The fact that Manning not only dedicates his career to helping others, but also his free time to documenting what he has personally discovered on his own journey, speaks volumes about his character and dedication to finding solutions for such life-altering disorders. Fused is a powerful reminder that self-improvement, self-awareness, and self-sacrifice are essential (and accessible) qualities in us all.