What Khloé Gets Wrong About OCD — Because Almost Everyone Else Does Too

Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage.
Part of the joy of watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians is gawking at all their stuff: closets, cookies, laundry rooms, shoes — it's all stunning. And if you're dedicated enough to subscribe to their apps, you know that Khloé fancies herself a big organizer. There's a whole channel on her app where she talks about the "method to my madness," and parades around her house showing you things she's organized. She calls it "Khlo-C-D."
A quick scroll through her website teases a ton of organizational content, like "How I Organize My Sunglasses," "You Won't Believe What I'm Organizing Now," and "Not To Brag, But My Baking Cabinet Is #Goals." I don't subscribe to her app, because I like a little intrigue, but she did post this video on her Twitter, in which she says, "Areas like this for a home owner are intimidating; a garage and a pantry, those get me really horny."
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Yes, her pantry is impeccable, but there's something a little troubling about how she throws around the term OCD. We don't know whether or not she's truly been diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and to assume either way would be wrong, but OCD doesn't mean "having great organizational skills": It can be a devastating disorder that ruins people's lives. "Our culture has put down the significance and importance of mental illness, and people with it need advocates who can speak up and say, illnesses are real," says Blair Simpson, MD, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center
We actually don't blame Khloé, though, because it's incredibly common for people to misuse OCD as a synonym for "something quirky that you feel strongly about" — and it's a problem. We all have intrusive thoughts (like panicking that you left your hair straightener on), but to have legitimate OCD means you have obsessions and compulsions that are impairing your functioning, Dr. Simpson says. "With obsessions and compulsions, people can feel driven to perform them so much so that they're not in charge of life anymore," she says. Repetitive behaviors that a person with OCD sticks to are usually harmful, not helpful, to a person's day and even though they feel comforting, they want to stop them.
To be diagnosed with OCD, your behaviors also have to be "time-consuming," which equates to more than one hour a day — far longer than the 10 minutes Khloe says it takes her to organize cookies in a jar once a month.
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It's also important to note that OCD isn't always related to cleaning or organizing. Compulsions can include repeating a phrase, checking something ritualistically, ordering and arranging, or event silently repeating a phrase. Even if you, like Khloé, prefer to keep all your cereals and straws in perfect glass jars, it doesn't necessarily mean you have OCD — organizing might just be fun for you.
If you do have OCD or suspect you might, talking to your friends and family is a personal decision, but the support can be helpful. It's also important to find a therapist and psychiatrist who knows how to treat patients with OCD, so they can help you figure out a plan to lessen your symptoms, Dr. Simpson says.
The bottom line: OCD is a very real condition that deserves to be taken seriously. Acting like it's something fun, quirky, and cute minimizes the experiences of the people who face these challenges every day. While there's nothing wrong with Khloé's admittedly clever organizational tips in and of themselves, it's time we all give people with OCD the respect they deserve.
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