OCD in Pop Culture: Daniel Radcliffe

OCD in Pop Culture: Daniel Radcliffe

You probably know Daniel Radcliffe from the wildly popular Harry Potter series. He, of course, played the titular character, Harry Potter; with his wide-rimmed glasses and the lightning scar on his forehead. But Daniel, in real life, was struggling with things vastly different from magical villains and Quidditich games. Radcliffe was suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Radcliffe first developed the disorder at five years old, and has said that it would often take him up to five minutes just to turn off a light (Fintzy 2012).

Oftentimes, the lives of celebrities seem to exist as mythical, faraway things; we see celebrities as people we will never be able to relate to, because their lives seem so radically different from ours. However, the idea that Radcliffe can be going through something that millions of everyday people endure proves that mental illness can affect everybody drastically, even somebody who may seem to have the perfect life.

About his disorder, Radcliffe has said, “I had to repeat every sentence under my breath. I would encourage everyone to undergo therapy. It doesn’t mean you’re insane or weak. I haven’t had it this year so far and I’m missing it” (Fintzy 2012). Though he was diagnosed in childhood, OCD is a chronic illness, and it will be with him everyday of his life. While those who haven’t been treated yet may find the idea of therapy intimidating, it is ultimately a vital and extremely productive component of recovery.

It can be especially difficult for people to be vulnerable, open, and honest about their struggle with mental illness if they are in the public eye, already being scrutinized for everything that they do. Radcliffe himself has lamented about public pressure, and didn’t begin openly discussing his mental health issues until 2012 (Robb-Dover 2019). Although a difficult decision, why is it so important that celebrities like Daniel Radcliffe speak out about their mental health struggles? There’s something known as the “Angeline Jolie effect,” in which people tend to change their decisions and behavior based on the health and lifestyle choices of celebrities that we see on TV (Weston 2015). Therefore, as celebrities have begun to become more open and honest about their mental health struggles, those who have been struggling with mental illness begin to learn that they don’t have to be alone in their struggle, and that there’s nothing wrong or shameful about seeking the support that they need.

While Radcliffe may have been living the dream as a prominent child actor, he was struggling with very serious issues behind the scenes. OCD can affect everyone, people from every background and status in life. As awareness about OCD becomes more well-spread, and those who struggle with it finally learn its name, perhaps they will be able to find people who have shared their own experience and find help their own way.


Fintzy, U., Friedman, G., Schwartz, P., Paster, E., Cramer, P., & Horn, J. (2017, September 26). Daniel Radcliffe talks about childhood OCD and being a celebrity. Retrieved from https://www.jta.org/2012/03/13/culture/daniel-radcliffe-talks-about-his-childhood-ocd-and-about-being-a-celebrity

Kircher, M. M. (2015, December 4). Daniel Radcliffe’s audition tape for ‘Harry Potter’ is an incredible blast from the past. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/daniel-radcliffe-harry-potter-audition-tape-2015-12

Robb-Dover, K., & Robb-Dover, K. R.-D. K. (2020, January 28). How Daniel Radcliffe Overcame Alcoholism and Other Mental Health Issues. Retrieved from https://fherehab.com/news/how-daniel-radcliffe-overcame-alcoholism-and-other-mental-health-issues/

Weston, S. (2019, May 15). Why it’s important for celebrities to talk about their mental health. Retrieved from https://www.mypossibleself.com/blog/why-its-important-for-celebrities-to-talk-about-their-mental-health/


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