OCD in Popular Culture

Like many areas of mental health, OCD is starting to be more recognised by society at large. However, while this awareness is welcome, inevitably there are some myths and misconceptions about what OCD is and whether someone is suffering with OCD. One of Staffordshire OCD Support Group’s goals is to help educate sufferers and non-sufferers alike as to what constitutes OCD and the type of treatment that is available to treat the condition.

Quite often OCD has been seen to be nothing more than slightly quirky behaviour by otherwise highly functioning individuals like David Beckham. In the TV series Friends, Monica had an obsessive-compulsive personality characterised by her ‘obsession’ with cleanliness and tidiness and her perfectionistic nature. More recently, the Channel 4 documentary/reality TV show, Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners, has added to the confusion with it’s portrayal of ‘obsessive-compulsives’ in the Monica mould who are seemingly happy to go into filthy homes and clean them while being filmed for television! These instances, combined with superstitions performed by a large section of the population such as ‘touching/knocking on wood’, avoiding black cats and walking under ladders, has given rise to the idea that being ‘a bit OCD’ is common place and may actually be helpful to the individual to carry out their job/organise their life.

Members of Staffordshire OCD Support Group are not particularly precious about their OCD diagnosis and if celebrities talking about the illness helps to raise awareness and reduce stigma around OCD and mental health more generally, then this is to be welcomed. However, we do feel it is important that people have an appreciation of the illness and are not distracted by gossip-column reality TV definitions of OCD which often bear no resemblance to a medical definition/diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder.