Several recent movies and TV shows have showcased OCD. Currently, Monk, a show airing on cable, portrays a detective with OCD. The writers of Monk consult with the Anxiety Disorders Association of America for information on how to accurately depict the disorder.
Several recent movies have also featured main characters with OCD, including The Aviator, which told the story of the life of Howard Hughes. In 1997, Jack Nicholson portrayed a man with OCD in As Good as It Gets. More recently, an independent film called Dirty Filthy Love featured a man with OCD and Tourette’s syndrome. One of the writers of this film has OCD, so the movie was an especially revealing look at the disorder.
As with any mass media portrayal of a disorder, some symptoms are exaggerated for effect, and others are minimized. For example, many people think of hand washing when they think of OCD, and thus this image is perpetuated in the media. But these portrayals often fail to capture the inner turmoil that many people with OCD suffer as they attempt to fight their obsessions and challenge their compulsions. They know that what they are doing is illogical; they just feel helpless to do anything about it, but this is rarely discussed.