I've watched Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners on many occasions, not for entertainment, as it seems to be the purpose, but to analyse the message it gives. And with a second series now being aired it still does not reduce my frustration.
For those who aren't aware Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners is a documentary that takes those with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) who have compulsions to keep their homes germ free or minimalistic to help declutter those who hoard (who also suffer from OCD). It is clashing two extremes of OCD. The only aim I could get from the program is to allow those with OCD in minimalising and cleaning to tone down their obsessions by meeting those who are the complete opposite, and to induce some of their obsessions onto them. If that really is the aim then it infuriates me.
On the last series I remember reading captions at the end of each episode, the ones that panged my heart were captions saying ‘It has made their OCD worse’. How is this acceptable to happen? Those who suffer from OCD experience anxiety when their obsessions are not satisfied by compulsive behaviours, for example somebody who is phobic of germs who cannot access a hand washing basin or anti-bacterial hand gel will experience anxiety and a fear of being contaminated. Although exposure therapy is a proven technique to work for some people with different anxiety disorders this level of exposure is incredibly over the top and extreme.
I was intrigued to know what the public felt towards this program. I went onto Twitter and was appalled to read the tweets. OCD is often seen by the public as somebody who likes to keep themselves and their home clean, not understanding the anxiety that comes with it. I've read tweets from people saying how they or somebody they know ‘MUST have OCD’. Not only is it a pet-hate of mine to hear people self-diagnosing themselves with a mental illness but it shows that the level of understanding of OCD is still very poor. Tweets that demonstrate how far we have to go in anti-stigma campaigning are ones that call the participants on the program ‘mad’ and ‘weirdo’s’. I find that language unacceptable. Not to mention the volume of tweets finding the program ‘amusing’, ‘hilarious’ and ‘funny’. Only a few tweets showed understanding and compassion to those with OCD.
Channel 4 has made a massive mistake airing a second series of Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners. It promotes a negative image of OCD and does not explain or show what OCD really is. Channel 4 has taken a group of people, suffering from a serious illness, and put them through unnecessary anxiety for the purpose of entertainment. This is not acceptable and I am shocked that Channel 4 think that this is acceptable. Even if the participants agreed to be involved in this program this is still sending an inaccurate message of what OCD is, creating more stigma and discrimination to those who suffer from it.