Run with Eric + Media

Daily Mail in 'irresponsible' shocker

Oh Daily Mail, obsessive-compulsive disorder is SO last year.

Of course, it doesn't bother me that there's another article in a mainstream national newspaper on OCD - far from it. I want to see the condition get as much coverage as possible so people actually understand it, instead of thinking, "Oh come on, how hard can it be to just have to wash your hands lots?"

The problem is that this is The Mail, and therefore any suggestion of respect is immediately going down the plughole with that soapy water. And indeed, they live up to form by making a complete hash of it.

My main issue with the piece is its conclusion. Personally, I think some progress can be made without professional consultation, but anyone with any OCD knowhow, professional or otherwise, would always say: see someone first. It's not an easy battle, and you'd be a fool to dismiss it entirely as a matter of willpower. Get help, then try to defeat it.

The article concludes:

The experts might say that you can't cure it yourself, but I'm living proof that you can.

Now that's actually quite dangerous. A scary amount of people read the Daily Mail, and any with OCD who read the article will almost certainly feel compelled - sorry - not to get help. "I can do it myself," they'll think. "This woman did." Whereas in real life, it's very possible the writer did get help in some form, and the Mail thought it would be better to cut it out for dramatic effect.

I'm casting a lot of aspersions here - look, there they go, fluttering into the sunset - but it is an absolute certainty that some OCD sufferers will, as a consequence of reading this article, try to handle the condition entirely by themselves, without any help, and that is the wrong thing to do. It's something you need to conquer personally, no doubt about it; but turning down help is just stupid.

So what else bothers me about the article? Well, it's slightly uncomfortable reading some of the supposed diary extracts, not because they're disgusting or because the truth is too horrible to bear, but because it's a woman baring all in the worst way possible - smiling to the cameras. Or in this case: weeping with a smile in her eye.

My point is that parts of the article are discomfortingly pity-seeking. The writer becomes the martyr. I'm all for a writer with OCD revealing her inner battles and just how low the condition makes her feel, and in that sense the diary format makes sense, but it repeatedly collapses into wanton melodrama.

Now I don't think this is necessarily the writer's fault; I think it's the editor's. Either the writer is exploiting her own condition for sympathy's sake or the Mail's exploiting her. I think the latter is more likely. Having been in similar positions (I turned down an offer to appear in a trashy woman's weekly because I would have been made into a sideshow freak), I can see how a brutally honest but reserved piece was mutated like Frankenstein's creature into a stumbling monster of gruesome soundbites and misunderstood intentions. I can see the e-mail now, asking the poor writer to "spice it up". I can see the subeditors battling over a headline - "'Obsessive Compulsive Disaster', brilliant". And I can see the writer in tears over its treatment.

Or - equally possible - she's fine with it, it's a decent exposé and I'm just jealous at having my spacky thunder stolen (not true, I'm afraid). But to be fair, I genuinely do want to see obsessive-compulsive disorder in the press as much as possible.

Just not like this.

Freedom, Health, Life, and more:

Daily Mail in 'irresponsible' shocker + Media