On Ignorance and OCD


“Mom, come here. Take a look at this.”

Blake summons me to the sofa where he is sitting and watching a video on YouTube. As I approach, I think he’s going to show me a video or something he finds interesting therein. As I lean in, though, he points not to the video, but to a banner running along the bottom.

“Are you OCD? Take the quiz to find out.”

It’s clearly not a true mental health screening. It’s another one of those things that pokes fun at how much you notice things that aren’t neat and orderly. It’s one of those quizzes that sets me off sometimes (See “Just a Little Rant“).

“Ugh,” I note. “I’ll bet that ticks you off.”

“Actually,” he says, “I find it kind of laughable. It doesn’t really bug me.”

“It doesn’t?”

“No. In the past that stuff really used to bother me,” he recalls. “Now…now I look at it as though they’re just ignorant. What I mean is, I don’t think that this is done with an intent to hurt people with OCD. I think about intent. I like to think that they just don’t realize that it can be hurtful; they just don’t realize what OCD is really like.”

Now, I tend to be a crusader for OCD education, and quizzes like this definitely get under my skin because they ignore the true pain that OCD can cause . Our family knows that pain – and nobody knows it more intimately than Blake. While part of me never wants to see these things, perhaps my son has developed a way of coping with them that is positive for him. He attributes it to people not knowing and he considers it without hurtful intent. One might say he’s giving some folks a free pass, yet, at the same time perhaps it’s better that he doesn’t give it a lot of space in his head. I just might learn something from him.