If you're looking for a dishy, behind-the-scenes look at the world of daytime TV -- complete with a real-life success story -- check out television personality Marc Summers' new memoir, EVERYTHING IN ITS PLACE: My Trials and Triumphs with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (A Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam Book; $21.95 U.S. / $30.99 CANADA; available now). In an engaging narrative, Summers describes the ups and downs of trying to hang on to personal relationships and build a show-business career while living with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
From the time he was in first grade, Marc Summers made sure everything in his world was perfect. His clothes hung exactly ¼" apart in the closet; no more, no less. If he smudged his homework even slightly, he'd redo the assignment on a fresh sheet of paper. This was more than perfectionism; Summers believed that failure to perform these tasks meant something terrible would befall his parents or himself.
He was as determined to be a television personality as he was to keep his room spotless. Through years of hard work, his dream came true. Summers appeared on the Tonight Show (where he and Burt Reynolds almost had a fistfight), and hosted many programs of his own, most notably Nickelodeon's Double Dare game show, where his youthful guests cheered as he was regularly doused in oatmeal, raw eggs, and vanilla pudding. This was quite a strain on someone who, in childhood would rather clean his room than play outside; whose college roommate took bets on how many minutes Summers could hold out before emptying his trash can after something was placed in it; who screamed at his wife on their wedding day when she was 15 minutes late to the ceremony. On Double Dare, Summers would smile for the cameras while inwardly consumed with anxiety.
Most people find out what's bothering them in the privacy of a psychologist's office, but Summers outed himself on national television.
After years of suffering in silence, the source of his distress finally became clear when the preeminent psychiatrist Dr. Eric Hollander appeared as a guest on Summers' New York-based talk show, Biggers and Summers. Live and on-camera, Summers learned that he -- like an estimated 6 million Americans -- suffers the effects of obsessive compulsive disorder.
EVERYTHING IN ITS PLACE is the frank, engaging, and often hilarious narrative of Summers' journey from compulsive room cleaner to family man, talk show host and national spokesperson for OCD. He takes the reader through the highs and lows of being on medication, what it was like feeling compelled to straighten the fringes on a rug at 1:30 a.m., and the difficulty of explaining to people why a grown man could not just stop his odd behaviors at will. Informed by the doctor who made Marc's symptoms manageable, Summers discusses the latest OCD research findings and treatment options.
Summers' story extends beyond a memoir, clinical study, or how-to manual, combining elements of all three to explore positive aspects of the disorder that can actually foster success. While these days Marc may still shudder at the thought of being covered in milk and baked beans, he has a terrific career, two wonderful children, and this month he and his wife (who has forgiven him for his behavior on their wedding day) celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary.