Have you ever wondered about famous people with OCD? Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is one of the most common mental health conditions.
OCD is affecting about 1% of the population everywhere in the world. OCD can affect people of any background and any age. It’s therefore not surprising that many influential and famous people from both modern times and from the past have experienced this condition.
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Famous People with OCD in the Present
Here’s an interesting list of celebrities with OCD!
Leonardo DiCaprio OCDEmbed from Getty Images
Leonardo DiCaprio is a very well-known actor and film producer whose name you’ve no doubt heard before. Though he is known for being very private when it comes to his personal life, he has talked about his experiences with OCD on a few occasions.
During the filming of “The Aviator” where he played the role of Howard Hughes, a famous billionaire and pilot who suffered from severe OCD, Leonardo DiCaprio was reminded of his own experience with the condition and decided to let himself give in to his compulsions so that he could portray the character realistically.
During the filming, he would often take a lot of time going through various routines before he could begin working, and even after the film was finished he found that the symptoms had become quite bothersome, though he was quickly able to regain control.
During discussions about the film, he mentioned that as a child he would need to step on cracks in the pavement as he walked down streets, sometimes even going back down a block so that he could step on one that he missed. He has also mentioned that he would feel the need to step through and back through doorways a few times.
However, he also mentioned that he was able to overcome these urges, and it seems he is able to keep his OCD symptoms well under control.
David Beckham OCDEmbed from Getty Images
The world-famous former footballer, David Beckham, has talked quite a bit about having OCD and about his experiences with the condition.
In an interview that was broadcast on ITV1, David said: “I have got this disorder where I have to have everything in a straight line or everything has to be in pairs. I’ll put my Pepsi cans in the fridge and if there’s one too many then I’ll put it in another cupboard somewhere. I’ll go into a hotel room and before I can relax I have to move all the leaflets and all the books and put them in a drawer.”
According to his wife, Victoria Beckham, their household has three fridges, in which the contents are all coordinated. One is for food, another is for salad and the last is for drinks. The condition also caused some difficulties during his career in football.
Though many of his teammates were unaware of his OCD, some others would purposefully rearrange his clothes and other objects in the room, such as magazines, in order to annoy him.
David Beckham mentioned that he tried to stop these habits, but was not able to and that he has had problems with anxiety as a result of his struggle with OCD. Though he has found ways to calm himself down, such as playing games and assembling Lego models with his children.
In another interview, he mentioned that he thinks it is very important to open up and talk to family and friends when going through difficulties such as these.
Amanda Seyfried OCDEmbed from Getty Images
A famous actress well known for her roles in movies such as Les Misérables and Mamma Mia!, Amanda Seyfried has spoken before about some of her thoughts on having OCD.
In an interview with the magazine Allure, Amanda spoke about once having severe health anxiety caused by OCD, and that more recently she limited the number of stoves she installed on her property, as she worries a lot about how people use stoves and that they might be left on and cause a fire.
She also discussed treatment and medication for OCD, saying that she had been on a low dose of the antidepressant Lexapro (escitalopram) for much of her life and that she sees no reason to stop using it.
She also talked about the stigma that exists regarding taking medication for mental health issues. “A mental illness is a thing that people cast in a different category [from other illnesses], but I don’t think it is. It should be taken as seriously as anything else.” She said. “Why do you need to prove it? If you can treat it, you treat it.”
In addition to treatment, She said that her fears and OCD symptoms have decreased a lot as she got older and that realizing many of her fears were not based in reality helped her a lot.
Famous people with OCD in the Past
As we know now in modern times, OCD is a very common condition, and there are many records of people experiencing the problems that we now associate with OCD. So it is likely that many well-known people from history also experienced it.
However, for most of them, it is very difficult to know for sure as it is rare to find records that detail such experiences, and it is obviously impossible to ask them how they felt.
Regardless, here are a few historical figures who were well-documented to have been affected by symptoms associated with OCD.
Nikola Tesla OCDEmbed from Getty Images
It is considered quite likely that Nikola Tesla, one of the most celebrated inventors and scientists in history, had OCD.
Many of the behaviors that he exhibited, especially in his later years, are very similar to those associated with OCD, though at the time they were usually just thought of as eccentricities.
For example, he was known to have an obsession with the number 3. Throughout his life, he spent time living in a multitude of different hotels in the USA, and for each one he would request that the room number be divisible by 3.
The hotel room that he spent his final 10 years in was Room 3327 on the 33rd floor of The New Yorker Hotel. At dinner, which he would have at exactly 8:10 PM, he insisted on having three napkins near his plate.
He would also thoroughly polish all of the silverware he was using, as he was very concerned with cleanliness. He disliked any physical contact with other people, often refusing to even shake hands with people he met, and he especially disliked coming into contact with other people’s hair.
He also had the habit of curling his toes a hundred times on both feet every night, though this isn’t necessarily an OCD-related habit. He believed that doing so would stimulate his brain cells.
He had many other daily habits that may be harder to link to OCD, as he believed they were part of a healthy lifestyle.
Samuel Johnson OCDEmbed from Getty Images
Dr Samuel Johnson, born in Lichfield, Staffordshire in 1709, was a writer who made great contributions to English literature and spent many years working tirelessly by himself to create A Dictionary of the English Language, which is considered one of the most important dictionaries of English ever published.
There are many accounts of Johnson displaying behaviors that could be attributed to OCD. For one example, his close friend James Boswell once wrote that Johnson had a particular ritual for walking through doorways and passages, in which he would always walk with a certain number of steps from a certain point on the floor and then put a certain foot through the entrance first. He would often repeat this until he got it exactly right.
It is also well known that he displayed various gestures and tics that seemed to be involuntary, and it is thought by many that this may also be a sign of him having Tourette syndrome. It is also very likely that he suffered from depression during periods of his life.
Sadly, OCD and the other conditions that Johnson may have had were almost completely unknown and misunderstood at the time, and they seem to have caused him a lot of distress throughout his life as a result.
In his later years it is claimed that he wrote: “When I survey my past life, I discover nothing but a barren waste of time, with disorders of the mind very near to madness.”
Charles Darwin OCDEmbed from Getty Images
The famed naturalist Charles Darwin, best known for his revolutionary theory of evolution, sadly spent much of his life in ill health, suffering from a wide range of symptoms both physical and mental, of which the causes are still unknown.
There is a long list of possible conditions that could be responsible, but OCD seems a likely possibility for a few of his symptoms in particular.
For instance, he was known to have struggled with intrusive thoughts, a common experience for people with OCD. He often had trouble sleeping as he would lay awake haunted by fears such as that his children would inherit his illnesses and that their lives would be affected in the same way he had been.
He was worried often about his health and for years kept meticulous records about his symptoms and how he felt each day.
He had a phobia of seeing blood, which caused him to leave medical school early in his life and pursue other studies, which eventually led to his interest in the natural sciences.
He also felt a great need for reassurance from others and had a fear of being misunderstood or scrutinized.
He was also very anxious about public speaking, to such an extent that it could trigger the physical symptoms of his illness.
This experience could also have been the result of social anxiety, which is another condition that is considered to have possibly played a part in Charles Darwin’s illness.
What is OCD?
OCD is a mental health condition where someone repeatedly experiences unwanted thoughts and has obsessions that result in compulsive behavior.
For example, someone may feel the need to go through a certain routine every day and may fear that something bad will happen if they don’t. Or they may have an obsession with cleaning and keeping everything in order.
However, different people have very diverse experiences of OCD and there are many ways that it can affect a person’s life. Some of the main examples are:
- Obsessive fears, such as a fear of accidentally or purposefully hurting yourself or others, or a fear of being contaminated by disease or unclean substances
- Intrusive thoughts, which are unwanted, often repetitive thoughts that may be disturbing or violent in nature
- Compulsive behaviors such as an obsession with washing hands, repeatedly checking that windows and doors are locked, counting to certain numbers or repeating phrases, and many other possible behaviors
Thankfully there are both treatments and some OCD hacks are available to treat obsessions on your own, such as therapy and medication, which are usually very effective as well as remedies like anxiety blankets. As a result, most people with the condition will be able to keep it under control and prevent it from negatively affecting their quality of life.
Being able to see that influential and famous people who have OCD, both the past and the present, also struggled with this condition helps us to understand how common this is.
It also helps us to understand that people who have dealt with OCD have made many great achievements and can stand among many other great people.
When a person that many people admire comes out as suffering from OCD, or any other struggles with mental health, it sends the message that it’s okay for everybody to be open about their own experiences and to seek help and treatment if they need it. Seeing famous people with OCD also helps to remove the stigma that still surrounds such conditions.
The term OCD is often used in a less serious sense than what living with the condition is actually like. As a result, when a celebrity makes comments saying that they have OCD, it can be difficult to tell what exactly they mean.
Regardless, it should be clear from these examples that although OCD can make life difficult sometimes, it does not have to be a barrier to success and fulfillment, especially with proper treatment and support.