06 January 2007

The appeal of OCD

Kelley:

Since I'm on break, I've been watching a lot of TV, especially bits and pieces of the Monk marathon that has been airing for the past couple of weeks. In case you haven't seen it, Monk is a show about a detective whose obsessive compulsive disorder allows him to remember countless details. It's a comedy, so the show pokes fun at Monk's disorder, portraying him as charming albeit quirky.

So, my friends and I have been talking about our borderline OCD habits--having to type words we see and hear on imaginary keyboards over and over, scratching an itch on one side of the body only having to scratch an imaginary itch on the other side to feel balanced, avoiding the cracks in the sidewalk, taking a step on the ball of the right foot and having to take a step with the left in the same position, just to name a few. It seems cool to have a borderline mental disorder because it lends your personality a few quirks. Or makes you feel crazy when you actually type your strange habits out on a blog post.

I think OCD, in moderate doses (I suppose some people--the people who really have the condition in all its seriousness--would say that moderate OCD really isn't the real deal and tell me to shut up) can also be a great advantage in some careers, like Monk's. One of my friends does research in microbiology, and I think his OCD-ness is a good reason why he enjoys the job so much. My experiences with lab research weren't the most exciting, but I found that menial tasks, like making agar gels, anything that has your hands and mind going over the same steps in a row, were oddly satisfying. It's a good feeling. I really hope that whatever OCD tendencies I have make me a good doctor one day.

2 Comments:

At January 08, 2007 2:15 PM, Blogger dan said...

I don't feel entirely comfortable writing this because I don't know if others would agree with my thoughts, but... I'm going to act as "Mental Illness Spokesperson" for a paragraph or two.

OCD and its brethren (ADD, bipolar, schizophrenia, etc.) are not all bad. As you and Julia pointed out, quirks can be appealing, like in Monk, or that episode of Scrubs with Michael J. Fox, or the end of A Beautiful Mind in which John Nash asks a student if she's real or not to elicit a smile.

When mental illness must be lived with it, I consider it crucial that the afflicted individual and those around him/her learn to not only live with it, but to find humor in it. Well-placed humor can help facilitate understanding and break down barriers the illness may have created, social and otherwise.

Because I don't watch TV, myself, I'm curious. How much of the illnesses do these shows portray? It wouldn't be called such if it were all smiles and giggles...

Fill me in?

 
At January 09, 2007 11:42 PM, Blogger Kelley said...

Agreed. But then I'm not entirely well versed in the ways of mental illness either, so my opinions should be taken lightly. Undoubtedly shows like Monk downplay the real seriousness of the disease, but they do show both sides--the quirky side as well as the side that hinders Mr. Monk from fulfilling the simplest everyday tasks. They do a pretty good job; it's not all smiles, there is a lot of bittersweet sadness. But since the show is about the advantage that having OCD lends to the field of crime work, you can see that they portray it in a certain light.

It's probably a good thing that you don't watch TV. Although some TV is great, interactive entertainment (without commercials of course). :)

 

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