Toward an Obsessive-Compulsive Madtime
Keywords:Madness; Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder; Temporality; Literary Studies; Rhetoric
Acute experiences of obsessive-compulsive distress both speed up time in the frantic repetition of the obsession and compulsion, and cause delays and slowed progression through the necessary activities of daily life. Both inwardly fast and outwardly slow, experiences of obsessions and compulsions, medicalized as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), present a paradoxical temporality marked by repetition in an ongoing present in deferral of a feared future. Through first-person lived experience and literary analysis, this article considers the specific ways that obsessive-compulsive madtime is lived and rhetorically constructed. I consider my recollection of a period of intense obsessive-compulsive distress as a way to story the experience of mad temporality from a personal, situated location. I then look to how the narrator in John Green’s 2017 young adult novel Turtles All the Way Down rhetorically figures obsessive-compulsive madtime through sentence and paragraph structure in dialogue with her obsessive and compulsive thoughts. I argue that obsessive-compulsive madtime functions as a doubled perspective of self and logic, but also as a doubled perspective in temporality whereby repetition forestalls a future due to the inability to find a reassuring sense of memory and completion. Obsessive-compulsive madtime proves an informative place from which to think through the overlapping experience of madtime and normative, sane time, and being in anxious narrative tension with futurity in the present.
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