The other day, a Monk marathon was on TV. I like the show, and it can actually be very accurate about portraying OCD. But, something kind of bugged me, and just didn’t “feel right” about the episode. (Aaaaggghhh…)
Monk bought a new (old) house, and there was a light fixture that was slightly off-center in one of the rooms. He noticed this, and it bothered him. Now — maybe that’s accurate and OK. People with OCD do tend to be detail-oriented, and perhaps notice small things that others wouldn’t. However… if this were the extent of OCD, everyone would want to have it, and it wouldn’t be a disorder, it would just be this really cool thing, like being smart or super-athletic.
Now, keep in mind, I do like the show, and it can at times be very accurate. But what I worry about sometimes are people’s perceptions of OCD, especially based on what they see in media. And what’s sometimes not conveyed is that someone with OCD is not only likely to notice things that actually are off-center, but someone with OCD is even more likely to think something is off-center when it is not, and no matter how much it’s moved they will still feel that it’s off-center.
That’s because the nature of OCD is that of false alarms. So OCD is not: “Hey my brain tells me cool details.” OCD is: “Hey my brain tells me some cool details but mainly decides that things are screwed-up when they’re actually just fine.”
For example, when I’m cooking… I find myself constantly worrying that the pot/pan I’m working with is not perfectly centered on the burner. So I move it a little… but then it seems too far the other way. So I move it. Over, and over… until finally I realize that no matter how much I move it, it always seems off-center, so I should just give up. Sometimes I also walk around the stove, visually assessing the situation from different angles. You can imagine how difficult this makes cooking. It’s even worse if I’m in the kitchen when someone else is cooking — if I didn’t place the pot there myself, somehow, it seems ten times more off-center just because of that.
Anyway… that’s my opinion on one particular part of one particular episode of Monk that bothered me not because it was wrong but perhaps slightly misleading for some people.