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The OCD Project
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 voyeuristic but informative series features people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder receiving intense (and at times unconventional) treatments. It contains discussions about frightening and/or tragic events (like the hit-and-run death of a parent) in order to find the source of the patients' behaviors. Participants use some strong language (“Goddamn,“ “s--t,” and “f--k” are all bleeped). The overall series may be too intense for tweens, but because the disorder often manifests itself in childhood, parents might want to watch with their teens and discuss some of the issues that come up here.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
THE OCD PROJECT is a reality series that features people struggling with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and the kinds of treatments being used to overcome it. For three weeks the six adults move into a group home run by psychologist and OCD specialist David Tolin, where they have the opportunity to share their pain and struggle with each other. The patients, who compulsively engage in behaviors ranging from endlessly washing their hands to living in terror that they will cause someone to die, undergo intense therapy and treatment exercises designed to re-train their brains to not fear the things that are prompting their behavior.
Is it any good?
The series highlights the debilitating effects of OCD, which has the potential to cause people to lose complete control over their lives. It reveals some of the reasons why people develop it, which often include traumatic childhood experiences. It also shows how some OCD sufferers may have other psychiatric issues that often go untreated because of their struggle with the disorder.
The show is informative, but it is also uncomfortably voyeuristic, especially when patients are shown being overcome by their compulsions. Tolin’s methods, which he claims are intended to produce major life-changing results in a short period of time, sometimes seem a little over-the-top. The high expectations he places on his patients and on his treatments (like licking shoes and throwing fake babies at moving cars) might also leave viewers questioning some of the motives behind the show. This aside, the series successfully underscores how difficult it is to lives with OCD, and the efforts that are being made to help people overcome it. While not a perfect educational tool, parents might find the show a useful conversation starter for an issue that usually manifests itself in the early years.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Why is this a disorder, and not a disease? How can you get it? Is there a cure? Did you know that many OCD sufferers develop the disorder when they are children? Why? What is life like for people who live with OCD? Where can people who have OCD go for help?
How are OCD and other anxiety disorders discussed in the media? Do you think reality shows like these help educate the public about these ailments? Or are they creating stereotypes about these disorders and the people who have them?
Do shows like this serve educational purposes or do their merely exploit vulnerable people?
For kids who love reality television
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