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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this informative series about people with anxiety disorders doesn't shy away from their struggles and intense treatments and therapies. Although the stories are offered in an educational context and are treated sensitively and respectfully, hearing about some of the events that contributed to the disorders' onset is disturbing and/or heartbreaking. It's not intended for kids, and sensitive viewers of any age may also have a tough time with it.
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What's the story?
OBSESSED examines what it's like to live with and be treated for anxiety disorders. In each episode, viewers meet two people suffering from problems like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, and hoarding. The patients film themselves engaging in ritual behaviors that are blocking them -- both physically and emotionally -- from participating in everyday activities. They then undergo weeks of intense therapy designed to help them manage their fears. A few weeks after completing treatment, their therapists follow up to see whether they've been able to continue to control their obsessive behavior.
Is it any good?
Obsessed offers an interesting, sensitive look at how anxiety disorders manifest themselves, as well as how these disorders are treated. While it doesn't always delve into the specific reasons why a patient is responding to anxiety in the way that they do, it does offer some general examples of what can trigger certain behaviors. The show also provides details about how these disorders, if left untreated, can get increasingly worse and more debilitating over time.
It's hard to watch the featured patients being trapped by their own anxieties, especially when their loved ones (including children) are shown trying to understand these extreme behaviors. These scenes are a little voyeuristic, but they also underscore the desperation and loneliness felt by the people who suffer from these disorders. And they remind viewers that while the media may often depict these behaviors as being amusing, most real-life obsessions are anything but funny.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about anxiety disorders. Can a specific event trigger these disorders, or is it a combination of factors? Where should people who suffer from these disorders go for help? Families can also discuss how the media portrays people with mental illnesses. Do you think the media perpetuates specific stereotypes about mental illness? Do shows like this help break them? Should compulsive behaviors ever be treated as a source of entertainment?