Did Monica from F.R.I.E.N.D.S really suffer from OCD?
Updated: Jan 30
Nope. It's an unbelievably inaccurate assumption. But let's go deeper and see what is wrong with her portrayal of the disorder. The DSM-5 is a manual published by the American Psychiatric Association and is one of the major tools mental health professionals use for diagnosis. According to the DSM-5 OCD is defined as “the presence of obsessions and/or compulsions that cause major distress or disruption to daily living.’’ Monica likes cleaning, but is not obsessed with it. So there are two parts to OCD- a thought that becomes an obsession followed by an action which becomes a compulsion. Here these compulsions become ritualistic behaviours that are performed in order to relieve intense and unbearable anxiety. On the show, Monica likes cleaning and likes tidying but that obsession in no way distresses her. She believes that her actions are completely justified and they are a part of who she is so even if she seems obsessive she is more likely to have Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. On multiple instances on the show Monica refers to cleaning as a "party" or something that she looks forward to and thinks of it as a good characteristic. This isn't a feeling that is mimicked in most patients of OCD. The main difference between OCD and OCPD is the lack of intrusive thoughts. In a personality disorder your obsessions and compulsions are completely based on how you are a person. In OCD these can be anything under the roof and they cause major psychological distress. Another difference comes about when you look at the causes of the two disorders. OCPD is an outcome of a learned behaviour and though there might be a genetic component that may make people more susceptible to it, it is largely based on environmental factors. OCD is caused due to the differences in the composition and functioning of the brain. Researchers have found that OCD affects the functioning of the regions of the brain that help regulate urges and makes it think that their urges have not been sated. The repeated actions or compulsive behaviors are a way of trying to tell your brain to actually calm down. OCD is an illness we still have a lot to learn about. The brain is one of the most complex organs and figuring out exactly how things work might take a while. The first step is to be aware of what you and others go through. Some fairly accurate representation of the disorder is the character Hannah Horvath from the show Girls.