So your friend is really organized: cares a lot about keeping everything neat, freaks out when things aren’t lined up properly. She turns to you one day, after lining up all of the pens on her desk, and she says, “Sorry, I’m just soooo OCD!” And you’ve heard other people say things like this before. But why do people say things like this? Why are some people so flippant about a disorder that’s debilitating for so many?
Oftentimes, many people trivialize an illness simply because they do not understand the severity of the illness and the reality that comes with struggling with it. And when these people make statements that trivialize mental illness, they probably don’t think twice about it. However, what this does is perpetuate the idea that OCD, rather than being a serious illness that requires proper diagnosis and treatment, is nothing more than a quirky personality trait not to be taken seriously (Storo 2015). When this idea is continually perpetuated, OCD sufferers are discouraged from seeking the help that they need. They have developed a misunderstanding of what OCD is and fail to take their own symptoms seriously, or they believe that others won’t take them seriously.
What this means is that people need to understand the harm that the kind of language they continually utilize may be causing. This bleeds into an overall debate about something known as political correctness, which has been defined as a set of language, attitudes, and ideologies that are largely deemed to be correct within the overall political landscape, and are sensitive to those who are socially or politically disadvantaged (Weigel 2016). As the world becomes more globally connected and people become more socially aware and educated about the various disadvantages of others, some have begun to criticize what they understand to be the policing and limiting of language. Many have argued that political correctness has gone too far. After all, don’t we have freedom of speech? How responsible must we hold ourselves for the feelings and comfort of others?
When it comes to this question, it’s important to ask yourself: how would you feel if you suffered from an illness or social disadvantage that people continually trivialized and delegitimized? It’s often easy for some to dismiss the struggles of others if they have never been touched by those struggles themselves. This is why it’s so critical to spread and publicize proper information about OCD, other mental illnesses, and the various struggles of others as a whole. As people become more educated and better understand the actual reality of many OCD sufferers, they will be better to understand the danger of language that trivializes the struggle of those with OCD, and will take their own language more seriously as they become more sensitive to the disadvantages of others. In the future, more and more people will begin to think twice before they say that they’re “sooooo OCD.”
Pogored. (2019, November 22). What’s the Difference Between Perfectionism and OCD? Retrieved from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/whats-the-difference-between-perfectionism-and-ocd/
Storo, S. (2018, December 26). Trivializing OCD: How Culture Makes a Serious Mental Disorder a Punchline. Retrieved from https://www.bridgestorecovery.com/blog/trivializing-ocd-how-culture-makes-a-serious-mental-disorder-a-punchline/
Weigel, M. (2016, November 30). Political correctness: how the right invented a phantom enemy Moira Weigel. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/30/political-correctness-how-the-right-invented-phantom-enemy-donald-trump