Since his inauguration there doesn’t seem to be a day that goes by where there isn’t a frenzied amount of activity on social media surrounding President Trump.
These days Trump frenzy rarely forces a raised eyebrow for me, however last week seeing ‘Trump and OCD’ in the same social media posts did cause me to pause and take notice, then get pretty pissed off.
In brief, some clever dick created a montage of Trump arranging items on his desk, and one US talk show host, Jimmy Kimmel (had never heard of him until last week) made a reference to the President being a little OCD, and in a clip on his show which you can watch here said he hoped the new healthcare plan covers OCD.
All very funny of course… unless you are one of us poor unfortunates that suffers with OCD, then it is less funny and more frustratingly diabolical claptrap for cheap laughs at our expense.
Now here’s the thing that struck me. During the presidential election, society widely criticised Trump for appearing to mock a physically disabled reporter. As it goes Trump is just embarrassingly ‘dad’ lame at impressions, I actually don’t think he was mocking the disability.
But here’s the question… why did society and social media find it acceptable to mock Trump’s OCD, yet are all full of condemnation when they thought Trump was mocking the reporter’s physical disability? Double standards when it comes to Trump? Probably! But sadly the answer is far more engrained in the publics wider perception of OCD.
Firstly, I don’t know if Trump suffers with OCD or not, but that montage clip does not offer evidence to suggest Trump was moving items because of OCD at all, I know that, most of you reading this will know that. We know that OCD is far more than a little bit of symmetry, I am not even sure Trump was doing that anyway. If Kimmel and his scriptwriters knew it they ignored it anyway, which makes it even more despicable.
The reason that people think it is acceptable to mock and ridicule what they perceive to be OCD ritualistic behaviour is the unhelpful and wholly inaccurate media representations of OCD like the one Jimmy Kimmel and whatever his US TV show is called portrayed. He is not alone, every time a pointless celebrity like one of the Kardashian misuses the OCD term it adds fuel to the OCD misconception fire.
Because of these inaccuracies and strange looking behaviours society think it’s funny and acceptable to laugh, make jokes and have a cheap laugh at the expense of people with OCD, and the more they do that the more it creates stigma for those suffering with the disorder.
In general the stigma around mental health has moved on significantly in recent years, and to their credit even the royals are getting involved in raising awareness around the problems of mental health but for some reason OCD has been left behind and as mentioned before OCD remains the poor cousin of mental health.
So what needs to change?
I keep reading the name of the condition needs to be changed, well that’s not the answer. They mock what we call OCD now, renaming the condition will simply mean they mock the new name. No, it’s the perception of OCD that needs to change.
How? I don’t know. For starters, we need personalities like Jimmy Kimmel to engage brain before making jokes that mock a recognised disability and for perpetuating this misconception, we need TV, media and newspapers to take more responsibility when referring to OCD. Most importantly we need to find a way to reach out and tell the world that OCD is a serious condition, a disorder that impacts on every aspect of a person’s life when they’re suffering. We, (OCD-UK) and other charities have tried various awareness approaches with our limited meagre resources, but it’s simply not working on the scale we need it to. I know OCD-UK will keep trying and keep pushing for positive change to highlight the D (disorder) in OCD, but we need to think differently, we need to think bigger to change the perception of how people view OCD.
Only then will the cheap jokes stop… hopefully.