Pet Peeve o’ the Moment: “OCD”

This blog is a little off topic, but since it’s my blog I guess that I can choose the topics. Anyway, today I would like to write about my newest pet peeve: when people use the term “OCD” to describe mildly obsessive or orderly tendencies. I hear it all the time in instances like these examples I found on Twitter:

im really nervous about wearing the same shoes two days in a row  #OCD

I find great satisfaction when I can close tabs on my computer #ocd

If I chip any other color nail polish it’s not a big deal, but as soon as I chip a French tip I get so angry #uneven#OCD

If you do a Twitter search under #ocd you’ll find an endless list of such posts. It’s not just on social media; I hear people use the term “OCD” in everyday conversation more and more often. And it bugs the hell out of me. “Oh my God, I must have over a hundred pairs of shoes. I’m so OCD.” “I spent an hour alphabetizing my DVD’s because I’m so OCD.”

No. You’re not.

First of all, OCD isn’t an adjective. It stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and it’s an anxiety disorder that is highly disruptive to those who suffer from it. This post isn’t about those people who truly suffer from OCD, diagnosed or undiagnosed. It’s for the overwhelming majority of people who use the term as a catch-all for even the slightest neurotic tendency.

Being perfectionistic or desirous of order doesn’t make you “OCD”. It makes you someone who likes things a certain way. If you really did have OCD, you’d know it. And your biggest problem wouldn’t be that your DVD’s weren’t in alphabetical order. What you mean to say is that you’re a perfectionist, or anal-retentive about cleanliness. Perhaps you enjoy collecting things or keeping your house organized. It’s most likely not a compulsive mental illness, it’s just what you prefer.

I don’t find it offensive when people misuse the term, I just think it’s annoying from a grammatical standpoint. It probably doesn’t matter to most people, but I guess I’m just…nit picky…that way.

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9 thoughts on “Pet Peeve o’ the Moment: “OCD”

  1. No, I agree with you completely. I have a friend who actually is OCD, and who had missed classes at school and wouldn’t talk for day because of it, and I always want to ask “are you? Are you really?!” when people describe themselves like that.

    To me, it’s like tripping while walking and saying “oh, I’m so paraplegic!” because you’re not, you’re not close to being paraplegic and you are confusing something for something else completely different.

    Rant ended.

  2. This is one of my biggest pet peeves. Same goes for “Ugh I’m so depressed” or “Ugh I’m so ADD”. No you’re not, because if you WERE depressed or ADD or OCD you wouldn’t be able to throw around the terms lightly like they’re just a passing phase.

    Argh.

  3. Yes. I actually have OCD and couldn’t agree more. Although I try to be understanding, because people usually don’t mean harm by saying this — I try to spread awareness, and tell people what OCD is really like. It’s frustrating for me when people don’t believe I have OCD because I’m not excessively neat or clean about everything!

    • I agree that people usually don’t mean harm, but the term has become so pervasive I worry that people don’t know what it actually even means anymore.

      • Yes. You’re right to worry about that, I think. As I said, there are people who won’t believe someone has OCD if the person is not overly, or outwardly, concerned with germs or cleanliness, so the stereotype really does a lot more harm than good. :\

  4. Oh yes! You hit the point! As someone who does actually suffer from OCD I get extremely annoyed when the term is thrown about so casually. It diminishes the severity of the fact that this IS actually an illness and deserves the respect that any other illness would. You don’t see anyone joking about having a broken leg or cancer or anything do you? Lovely post overall, though! :)

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