The Last Man on Earth

A Lonely Battle Against OCD

Non-Fiction - Memoir
311 Pages
Reviewed on 06/30/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

The Last Man on Earth: A Lonely Battle Against OCD is a work of non-fiction in the memoir, autobiographical writing, and mental health issues subgenres. It is best suited to the adult reading audience owing to difficult discussions, strong language, and self-harm references. Penned by author Joseph Lynch, this frank and often heartbreaking discussion of living a life with severe OCD is sure to resonate with those who suffer from the condition and educate everyone else around them. From self-induced non-verbal periods to delusions and deep psychosis, this account takes us deep into the mind of Joseph Lynch to explain a courageous and desperate battle to regain control of his own mind.

Author Joseph Lynch is a brave soul to bare all in such a personal, frank, and raw way for this harrowing story, and in doing so, he offers tiny rays of hope in even the darkest times for himself and fellow OCD sufferers at whatever stage of their own journey. As a friend of a few lower-level suffers of the condition, I learned a lot about the ways in which OCD can manifest and grow into something even more terrible and terrifying when the sufferer feels totally alone in their journey. Joseph’s narrative skill conveys layers of complexity in every sentence, showing fortitude even in the most difficult times and always assuring readers that he’ll never give up his battle. This makes for emotive and admirable reading, and I’d highly recommend The Last Man on Earth to anyone wishing to learn more about OCD and to memoir fans everywhere seeking something unique, tough, and rewarding to read.

Joanne Ang

The Last Man on Earth: A Lonely Battle Against OCD by Joseph Lynch is a memoir of the author’s journey with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Growing up in a rural town in England, the only connection Joseph had to the outside world was his use of the internet. It wasn’t long before internet access was a concept that was long forgotten. His family was constantly away to be with his dying grandmother, so Joseph had to think outside the box before boredom consumed him. That was when a bright idea struck him. Why not create a simulation in his mind that controlled his being in a parallel dimension? He never anticipated the intrusive thoughts, and never expected to be so lost. Slowly, Joseph became a shadow that lingered in his consciousness, but he would stop at nothing to find his way back to sanity.

The Last Man on Earth is an amazing account of Joseph Lynch’s struggles with OCD and how he overcame his internal demons. The author didn’t shy away from the gory details of his compulsions, showing readers the true extent of how his mind and body were constantly being tormented by his intrusive thoughts. While this isn’t a self-help book, I appreciated that the author has included websites that helped him overcome his struggle with OCD, giving readers who are struggling with a similar situation a healing direction. The writing style is witty yet descriptive, giving some edge and personality to the text without losing the nitty gritty details of the author’s journey with OCD. While this book can be quite depressing, there is also a light-heartedness to it that kept me moving forward. This is a unique take on mental health awareness that is bold and out there.

Grace Ruhara

The Last Man on Earth by Joseph S.D. Lynch enlightens readers on different variations of OCD. His journey toward OCD began when he was lonely, as his mother was constantly at the hospital attending to his ailing grandmother. Having no one to confide in, he slowly started losing his sanity and lived in a world of obsessive and intrusive thoughts, anxiety, and subsequent compulsions. He started spitting on the floor, self-harming, and starving himself. He dropped out of Sussex University barely a month in and Westminster University after two months since his mental illness could no longer be contained. Fortunately, he started CBT therapy to battle each compulsion. Though the treatment was slightly helpful, his decision and thirst for a normal life were the game changers.

Joseph S.D. Lynch's story shares his struggles with OCD and how he overcame them. His story gives hope and courage to readers and their families going through the same thing. Showing love and caring for those undergoing OCD is their best support system since it assures them they are not alone and gives them reasons to strive to improve. Readers with family members or friends going through OCD will appreciate The Last Man on Earth since it not only shares their struggles and challenges but also gives them strength and hope to fight each day toward an OCD-free life full of happiness and fulfillment.

Jamie Michele

The Last Man on Earth: A Lonely Battle Against OCD by Joseph Lynch is a memoir depicting his later-life coming of age amidst severe mental health struggles. Lynch's obsession with blue cars triggers breakdowns and doubts about reality. Two funerals heighten his anxiety, pushing him towards psychosis. Despite dreams of studying science, social anxiety, and loneliness hinder his university experience. Lynch fights intrusive thoughts of child abuse and guilt after becoming a vegan, self-harm, fear of demons and aliens, and dread of alternate realities. He stays in a psychiatric hospital and experiments with therapeutic cannabis but finds more solace in Christianity. After years of struggles and failed attempts, an encounter on a train becomes a catalyst for change, leading him toward positive milestones and outcomes.

Reviewing memoirs can be a tricky business because the line between literary merit and what seems like a judgment on a person's real lived experiences, while not blurry to me, can feel that way to an author. I look for certain components to suss out an effective memoir and The Last Man on Earth by Joseph Lynch ticks them all. Lynch's personal reflections allow readers to understand his perspective whether or not we understand the actual acts themselves. He does this by remaining truthful in accounts of events and we believe him because he stays true and consistent to his voice as the author. Lynch has vivid descriptions of things he sees and conversations he has outside of the human realm, creating a strong sense of time, place, and atmosphere. Professionals in mental health, people who have the same or similar experiences, and friends and family who want to understand what a person in their life is going through will gain insight from Lynch's book. Recommended.

Asher Syed

The Last Man on Earth: A Lonely Battle Against OCD by Joseph Lynch shares his struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder and life experiences. He recounts his challenges with acceptance and seeking help, relying on online forums for reassurance. Joseph describes how his obsessions, such as manipulation and fear of radiation, and fear of aliens, affect his daily life and academic pursuits. They also impact his experiences with online dating and his ability to create meaningful connections, and he faces disappointment in his attempts. Joseph became a devout Christian and a militant vegan, with faith and social stances being excellent outlets, but a tendency to move to extremes frequently has dangerous outcomes, physically and emotionally. Throughout, Joseph emphasizes the importance of therapy and support groups in his ongoing journey toward self-improvement, determined to live a fulfilling life and embrace new experiences.

For me, the most touching moment in The Last Man on Earth by Joseph Lynch is his journey from non-religious to becoming Christian in how touches upon his encounters with existential questions. As is expected, his story has an arc, one that is incredibly uncomfortable in places. As his retelling of what he has experienced progresses, he presents his defense of God's actions. From this aspect, I can see this book being one that would be better embraced by a readership that shares Joseph's faith and, among them, may have also felt the complexities of faith, personal growth, and the search for meaning in the face of adversity. The writing style is raw and unpolished but so is what Joseph has to say. Let's hope there are people close to him who continue to help him by listening, and that others find their own path as well toward a life that is very much worth living.

A. Christensen

Joseph's bravery in battling his way out of a very dark place is only surpassed by his bravery in sharing his story.

I found his story, in turn, both moving and funny and was so impressed by how he has managed to maintain the humour in these pages through years of struggle. It makes the reading of a difficult time, while not entertaining, I would say hopeful. It made me feel that there was a way out of the worst of this mental illness and a way to deal with it.

Joseph's story might not be easy to read for everyone, especially if reading about such things triggers your own mental health issues, but it gives hope that with the right help and the right frame of mind, it is possible to get through it. Well worth reading for those who know someone with OCD as well.