Stop Using OCD as an Adjective or Figure of Speech

By | July 16, 2016

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is not being a person who prefers organization and order, and the initials OCD should not be used as an adjective or figure of speech conveying those character traits. OCD is a serious anxiety disorder that can cause severe distress and it can impair one’s ability to function in life.

All people can become obsessive or compulsive about certain things, your desk needs to be exactly so, you have to check all your doors before leaving the house, you like to have things in your kitchen in a specific way; you may not be able to explain why you started these habits or why you continue, but you feel an unexplainable need to do so. These obsessions or compulsions are part of everyone’s life, although they differ from person to person. However, for those with OCD, the D standing for Disorder, these obsessions and compulsions begin to take over your daily life, creating an environment where obsessions and compulsions that were once normal begin escalate into abnormal proportions.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder affects millions on a daily basis. For some, every second of every day is affected by this disorder. It is not a figure of speech to them, it is not a phrase to use when someone demands organization or demonstrates a need for tidiness, it is a daily struggle that affects their ability to work, have relationships, and live life.

This disorder is already misunderstood by the general public, and using this acronym for people who have anal retentive qualities waters down the seriousness of this disorder while putting a false definition in people’s minds. You are taking away the severity of the disorder when it is used as a phrase. This is a serious disorder worthy of proper education and respect. Using the phrase may seem like fun but it has unintentional consequences. Using this phrase can invalidate a person’s experience with this debilitating disorder.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a serious medical condition. Would you use other health issues in such a light hearted way? “I’m so Cancer”, “I’m so HIV”? I would hope not. Mental illnesses like OCD should be no different. So, please, the next time you think to use this phrase as an adjective, stop and consider those whose lives are severely impacted by this disorder and pick a different phrase.


Photo from Western Orientations Language Awareness Campaign (