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How Do You Feel About ‘OCD’ Products?

I always feel very torn on products that make us of the “OCD” abbreviation, like the Christmas sweater that caused such a stir at Target this year.

On the one hand, OCD sucks, and I feel like if those of us who have it can’t mock it (and ourselves) a little, it’s winning. Sometimes dark humor really helps get past some truly serious stuff.

On the other hand, most of these products aren’t created by someone with OCD, and the profits don’t go to help those who suffer from it.

I’d feel a lot better about shirts with “Obsessive Christmas Disorder” or “Obsessive Cat Disorder” if they were designed by artists with OCD and part of the profits went to the International OCD Foundation, for example, even if they were sold in a big-box store.

And then there are those products you want to root for, but can’t, like Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics. I had a conversation about this line with a friend of mine the other day. I’m not a big makeup person, so I really didn’t know much about the company at all other than that the founder has OCD himself. I gave him a pass because of that, mostly, but my friend linked me to some interviews he’s given about his makeup brand and I began exploring.

For example:

I joke that I’m not just the President of Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics; I’m also a client. In naming the company, my intent was to celebrate the way these sorts of compulsions can be channeled into a productive lifestyle, and to also convey a sense of humor and enjoyment in the art of makeup.

Or how about this:

“What’s been amazing about the company is turning what’s viewed as a negative into a positive,” said Mr. Klasfeld of obsessive-compulsive disorder. “Coordinating and matched sets are definitely things that are born out of an O.C.D. mind.”

He makes having OCD sound wacky and fun. It’s really not.

In many interviews and stories about the line, he never brings up his OCD at all; when he does, it’s usually just to explain why the name of his company is fine, not to explain the disorder or give those who don’t have it a glimpse into what it’s like.

The makeup line’s website says absolutely nothing about OCD on its “About” page. It also does little to educate consumers — and, as my friend noted, the vast majority of the consumers of this line do not have a mental illness themselves or know anything about OCD — about the impacts of horrifying intrusive thoughts or compulsions that lead to actual harm such as hair-pulling, skin-picking, washing hands with bleach, only eating certain foods, and so on. These are really, truly harmful things that most OCDers really, truly suffer from.

Of course, this is added to the truly distasteful names of some of the colors (Stalker, Black Dahlia, Strumpet, Hoochie … this goes beyond edgy into just sort of creepy, honestly).

On the one hand, if you have this crap disorder, you should be able to get something positive out of it. Should I begrudge David Klasfeld that? Does he have an obligation to use his position to talk about his disorder and educate others?

But on the other hand, it seems like the brand is profiting off Klasfeld’s OCD without giving anything back in the way of education or research. Is that OK? I don’t know. I don’t think it is, but others may disagree.

How can someone make OCD-themed products the right way? Is there a right way at all? As much as I would love to buy or even create an “Obsessive Cat Disorder” T-shirt and wear it proudly, I don’t think I could ever feel like I wasn’t throwing my fellow OCDers under the bus, even though I have OCD myself.

How Do You Feel About ‘OCD’ Products?

Kyla Cathey

Kyla Cathey is a freelance writer from Galt, California who has been overcoming OCD for the past year, after struggling with it for much of her life.

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APA Reference
Cathey, K. (2016). How Do You Feel About ‘OCD’ Products?. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 19, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/overcoming-ocd/2016/03/how-do-you-feel-about-ocd-products/


Last updated: 10 Mar 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 10 Mar 2016
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.