Tuesday, May 8, 2012

To some extent I am approaching this from a personal perspective. As a child, my life was ruled by punishing and inescapable rituals. As an adult, I have to a large extent learnt how to live with obsessions and compulsions, and have developed strategies that can mostly accommodate them and their attendant emotional upheavals.

It has often struck me how unacknowledged OCD has been as a condition that in reality is relatively common, affecting approximately one in 50, a total of 1,000,000 sufferers in the UK.

Thus, not so insignificant.

Obsessive compulsive disorder has been a theme for many works of fiction, for example Elizabeth Haynes’ Into the Darkest Corner. But I am most interested in the personal stories of those who suffer, and have been brave enough to share their experiences.

Over the next days I will talk about Steph Bates’s current exhibition Thursday’s Child has Far to Go at The Bethlem Gallery (www.bethlemgallery.com), which includes an exploration of the challenge of living with OCD, Joanne Limberg’s recent memoir, The Woman Who Thought Too Much, and hoarding, allied to OCD and currently media topical.

The ‘retrospectoscope’ is rarely helpful, yet it is tempting to consider Charles Darwin, Florence Nightingale, Michelangelo, hitherto ‘labelled’ as OCD sufferers, along the way…