What can the Target Christmas sweater teach us about OCD?

U-M psychiatrist explains what obsessive-compulsive disorder is REALLY about

target OCD sweater

This week, Target made news for debuting a holiday-themed sweater that labeled OCD as “Obsessive Christmas Disorder” – a play on the condition’s real full name, obsessive compulsive disorder.

Critics are accusing the store as “trivializing mental illness” and are saying that this message “perpetuates myths and misunderstandings.”

We sat down with OCD expert and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry Kate Fitzgerald, M.D., to set the record straight.

How do you identify true OCD?

Fitzgerald_576Dr. Fitzgerald: Typically, we diagnose true OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) in someone who has unusual, intrusive and repetitive worry or fears. These fears or worries may interfere with his or her functioning in some way (school attendance or performance, relationships with family members or peers, involvement in activities). Generally, a person with true OCD reports thoughts or fears that come to mind over and over again, even though they might realize the worries do not make sense. Some examples of obsessive thoughts are fear of contamination, accidental violence, or needing to feel “just right.”
Continue reading