This article was written by Dr Stephanie Fitzgerald and was first published during OCD Awareness Week, October 2011.
As a Clinical Psychologist working with people affected by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), there are six words that for me epitomise the level of ignorance that exists around OCD: ‘Oh, I’m a bit like that’. We’ve all heard someone say them. Whether it’s someone referring to the fact they like a tidy desk at work, or someone talking about how grim some festival toilets were, we’ve all heard someone discuss how they can be ‘a bit OCD about things like that’.
OCD, in this misunderstood form, seems to have become a very popular disorder. People view OCD as a quirky character trait meaning you like things done in a certain way, or in a certain order, or have your own routine which you are fond of and like to stick to. Alternatively, due to the media’s insistence as portraying OCD as an addiction to hand-washing and an intolerance of germs, OCD is viewed as an almost positive character trait. People believe by declaring themselves as ‘a bit OCD’ they are proudly declaring that they keep their home neat and tidy. Indeed nowadays it seems that people seem to aspire to have OCD and are very keen to tell others ‘Oh, I’m a bit like that’.