What the Media Really Thinks About Celebrities with OCD

By: Sharmila Dass 

Have you ever heard of OCD? Also known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, it is extremely prevalent in society today and has been displayed multiple times on television, through celebrities, and even in movies.  Not only has it been displayed in the media, actual celebrities have been diagnosed with OCD, and this has raised awareness for the illness quite extensively. It is often portrayed as a ritualistic and obscure illness that makes you appear to be a perfectionist, when in reality, you can’t control your actions. For example, one may constantly wash his or her hands in fear of germs and bacteria, which is also known as mysophobia (Europe PubMed, 2001). Also, the act of compulsive hoarding, which falls under the Diogenes Syndrome, is a subset of OCD and involves in the hoarding of unwanted and unnecessary items and ultimately self-neglect (Healthline Networks, 2015). With OCD being such a prevalent phenomenon on our silver screens, it’s easy to lose sight of it as a real condition, but think about it. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder includes individuals that have dimorphic disorder, anorexia nervosa, and even hypochondriasis (McElroy, 2015). Other conditions that may embody the compulsiveness of this disease are bulimia nervosa, binge eating, and sexual and non-sexual paraphilia (McElroy, 2015). Many infamous celebrities are diagnosed with OCD, and we will discuss a few here.

Cameron Diaz, actress and former model, came out with her illness and how it affects her on a daily basis. She suffers from mysophobia, which is having a huge fear of germs, and therefore, sanitizes her house and hands on a daily basis (Jensen, 2015). Famous soccer athlete, David Beckham, also suffers from this condition. David Beckham, in particular, gets upset if things are not aligned in a specific order, a common symptom of someone who feels strongly about symmetry and exactness (Beyond OCD, 2015). He also hates odd numbers, which plays a negative toll on his mind if they are not even. He will also go up to the point in rearranging hotel furniture to his liking (Jensen, 2015).

You may also know the infamous Kardashian family, who has made their way to fame as Hollywood socialites. The Kardashian-Jenner girls are always onto something, whether it is fashion dilemmas or baby drama. However, we rarely heard from the son of the family, Rob Kardashian. He has been far from the media as he is recovering from his sudden weight gain and depression. Rob’s behavior was documented on the popular Kardashian spin-off, Khloe and Lamar, a reality television show that included him needing his wardrobe arranged in a particular style and having to turn the corner of a street multiple times to make sure he had not run over an animal (Khloe and Lamar, 2012). It is thought that individuals like Rob Kardashian exhibit symptoms related to symmetry and exactness such as these because he or she believes that something bad may happen and this causes extreme anxiety (Beyond OCD, 2015). His diagnosis was also documented on television, and was stated to be a possible effect of his father’s death. The media has portrayed him to be lazy and childish because he has not made any changes to his lifestyle and present him to be the black sheep of the family (Fawcett, 2015). The media mocks his OCD and depression by stating he is rich and can afford medical procedures and surgeries. However, I believe that illnesses cannot be cured with money but that a change needs to be made from within, first.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is usually overlooked and perceived to be trivial or mocked, but as it is becoming glorified, more people are paying attention to severity of this disease. Because the media generally associated individuals with OCD to negative connotations, it is primarily our duty to raise awareness and clear these misunderstandings. Having OCD does not mean one is violent, lazy, or sick. It is an illness that needs to be treated with extensive care because of its effect on a large majority of people.


Obsessive-phobic disorders with the phenomena of mysophobia in slowly progressing schizophrenia. (2001). Retrieved October 1, 2015, from http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/11243027

Extreme Need for Symmetry or Exactness. (2015, September 30). Retrieved October 1, 2015, from http://beyondocd.org/information-for-individuals/symptoms/extreme-need-for-symmetry-or-exactness

Fawcett, K. (2015, April 16). How Mental Illness is Misrepresented in the Media. Retrieved October 1, 2015, from http://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2015/04/16/how-mental-illness-is-misrepresented-in-the-media

The Healthline Editorial Team. (2015). Diogenes Syndrome: Living in Extreme Squalor. Retrieved October 1, 2015, from http://www.healthline.com/health-blogs/healthline-connects/diogenes-syndrome-living-extreme-squalor

Jensen, K. (2013, March 7). 10 Celebrities Who Suffer From OCD. Retrieved October 1, 2015, from http://www.mandatory.com/2013/03/07/10-celebrities-who-suffer-from-ocd/

“Khloe and Lamar.” Khloe and Lamar. N.d. Television.

McElroy, S., Phillips, K., & Keck, P. (1994, October 1). Obsessive compulsive spectrum disorder. Retrieved October 1, 2015, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7961531

Sharmila Dass

My focus is to relate the social aspects of medicine to the everyday treatment of patients as physicians. I hope to learn about the underlying roots of illnesses with a stigma and raise awareness to these issues. Mental health is a prevalent issue in society and can be seen as "nonexistent" to some, especially in the South Asian community. I have witnessed depression in a few family members and close friends and want to learn as much as possible to help not only them, but others in the future. When I am not in class or studying, I love to dance and play tennis.

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