88c15575-386c-470d-9b39-8782c610e1d8-large16x9_ocdsweaterJust in time for Christmas, giant retailer Target came out with a gaudy sweater line that included a joke sweater about OCD. The disorder, according to the sweater, is all about ‘Obsessive Christmas Disorder’.

News of the sweater quickly spread throughout the World Wide Web, leading to instant condemnation by OCD organizations across the globe. Many news outlets were quick to pounce on the story, perhaps after seeing the backlash on the web and throughout social media. Most of those with OCD were quick to condemn Target’s spoof of the disorder, while some didn’t see what the big deal was. Many people came to Target’s defense, labelling those complaining about the sweater as being whiny or too sensitive.

Target steadfastly refused to remove the sweater from sale, despite many requests to do so.

Should people suffering from OCD be upset about the Target sweater? Perhaps it would be better to say people should be concerned about the gaudy sweater’s message but there’s no sense getting upset over it.

Let’s face it, Target is hardly alone in their desire to ridicule Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Many, many online retailers sell joke OCD merchandise, from T-shirts proclaiming OCD as Obsessive Christmas Disorder to mugs proclaiming OCD as Obsessive Cat Disorder. A search on Amazon will lead to page after page of joke OCD merchandise. Target is far from alone.

But Target, like Amazon and scores of other retailers, is culpable for getting sucked in by a misleading stereotype and for spreading misinformation about one of the world’s most devastating mental disorders. Target, and others, is guilty of lack of research into OCD, a total lack of empathy for OCD sufferers and for being, quite simply, stupid. The company, in its quest for sales, is perpetuating a myth that people with OCD are anal retentive neat freaks. They are not.

There are anal retentive people out there. There are people who get a lot of pleasure out of organizing and cleaning and being anal retentive about holidays, like Christmas. No doubt. But OCD sufferers get no pleasure from their obsessions and compulsions. They’d love to do anything but their repetitive rituals. They do, in short, suffer from their condition. They aren’t happy-go-lucky people who love things neat, organized and clean.

Target no doubt has a fall back position that it is only doing what everyone else is doing. It makes one wonder if Target would jump off a bridge because someone else did it. Target had a moral obligation to actually check out OCD and try to understand it before using the disorder as a joke on a gaudy sweater. Target failed. It failed on its own, like many other companies fail every day by cheapening a devastating disorder. All together these companies make it increasingly difficult for OCD organizations and sufferers to get the correct information out to the public that OCD is a terrible mental disorder that causes real difficulties for its sufferers.

For some reason, OCD stands alone when it comes to conditions ripe for jokes. Target would never dream of a gaudy sweater that poked fun at people with cancer. There is no sweater that makes a joke about schizophrenics. No, Target wouldn’t joke about diabetes but it felt it was okay to make a joke about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

One post, one Tweet at a time, sufferers and their supporting organizations must take a stand against the Targets of the world and do their best to get the correct information out there. It’s a monumental task. Social media and the web are inundated with plain wrong information about OCD. It will be a struggle to get the world to perceive OCD sufferers as anything more than neat freaks. But are we to roll over and just let it happen? Or do we take a stand and reclaim our disorder? The choice is up to the individual.

This website will continue to point out when companies or well known individuals decide to mock the mental disorder that is OCD. We’re taking a stand. What about you?