Obsessive.Compulsive.Cleaners.S2.616x350OCD charities and organizations in the United Kingdom are up in arms about a television show broadcast in that country called Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners.

OCD-UK is leading the charge in condemning the Channel 4 program, which features alleged obsessive compulsives helping hoarders clean up their homes.

“This week Channel 4 will once again broadcast a new series of their Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners despite the distress the series causes to those that suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder,” states an article published on the OCD-UK website this week.

OCD-UK goes on to say, “Despite widespread concerns being raised by charities and people affected by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder directly with Channel 4’s Chief Executive and disability advisor they have chosen to repeatedly ignore these concerns and continue to commission and broadcast this latest series.”

Any time the words ‘obsessive’ and ‘compulsive’ come together in a sentence, the natural assumption is that OCD is being talked about. In fact, Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners goes to lengths to portray the cleaners on its show as having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The people being helped are commonly referred to as hoarders.

This is an example of a for-profit business trying to make money on a misunderstanding of what OCD is all about. The cleaners are portrayed as enjoying doing their cleaning, which flies in the face of what is known about compulsions. Excessive cleaning is a known OCD compulsion and compulsions are not enjoyed by sufferers. If anything sufferers want their compulsions to end but they feel compelled to continue to do them.

OCD-UK lists five reasons why Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners is raising concerns:

  • Ridicules people with OCD
  • Continues to offer a false stereotype representation of what OCD is
  • Adds to the stigma that people with OCD face
  • Trivialises the intense anxiety and suffering that people with OCD go through
  • Insinuates that people enjoy their cleaning behaviours giving false representation about what OCD is.

OCD Life agrees with OCD-UK’s assertions, however there is an additional concern we think should be on the list.

  • Trivializes the plight of hoarders, hoarding being a well known and documented subset of OCD.

Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners is not the first TV show to make light of hoarding, where the emphasis is on cleaning up a mess and there is little to no attempt made to get psychological help for the hoarders and their condition.

Unfortunately the show, which is now in its second season, reinforces the stereotype that people with OCD are anal retentive neat freaks. It completely ignores the fact that people with the disorder experience extreme anxiety and distress over their obsessions and take no joy in completing their compulsions.

There are a number of articles on the OCD-UK website about Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners here.