Famous People With Obsessive-Compulsive Disorderby The HealthCentral Editorial Team
What is OCD?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviors that make them feel driven to do something (compulsions). Having OCD is incredibly challenging for people who have it, but that doesn’t mean that a person can’t function normally and even thrive with the condition. In this slideshow, we look at 10 successful celebrities who had, or have, mild or extensive symptoms of OCD.
Cameron Diaz, star of such films as The Mask and There's Something About Mary, admitted in a 1997 article that she suffered from a phobia of germs that caused her to clean the doorknobs in her house so many times that she faded their paint. She has since "made her peace" with this phobia, she says. She even removed stitches from The Daily Show host Jon Stewart's wrist on camera!
“The Donald,” now President of the United States, and former host of the hit television show The Apprentice, says he has “borderline” obsessive-compulsive disorder that causes him to fear germs. Previous reports that he will not shake hands with people, especially teachers, whom he says have “17,000 germs per square inch on their desks,” are somewhat exaggerated. The President may have certain mild symptoms of OCD, but they do not significantly impair his daily activities, like hand shaking.
Titanic and Shutter Island star Leonardo DiCaprio was obsessed with sidewalks as a child, often going back over his walking routes to repeatedly step on cracks or gum stains. Despite these compulsive tendencies, the actor states he does not suffer with OCD. DiCaprio admits he allowed his compulsive tendencies to worsen in order to better play his role as film producer/director and fellow OCD sufferer Howard Hughes in the movie Aviator.
Deal or No Deal host Howie Mandel won’t shake hands with people because of a fear of dirt and germs. Instead, he uses his well known "fist bump" to compensate. He even keeps his head shaved in order to "feel more clean." Mandel details his struggles with both OCD and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in his book Here’s the Deal: Don’t Touch Me, published in 2009.
International soccer star David Beckham admits to keeping things in straight lines, pairing items and organizing them by color or type. According to his wife Victoria, Beckham once purchased three refrigerators so that he can have one for drinks, one for salads, and one for other foods. The items must be 'symmetrical' as well. "If there's three cans of Diet Coke, he'd throw one away instead of having three--because it has to be an even number." Beckham admits he's tried to stop the behavior, but can't.
Billy Bob Thornton
Sling Blade actor-turned-musician Billy Bob Thornton said his OCD began in his childhood as a result of abuse. An obsession with mathematics and numbers is the primary way his OCD expresses itself, with numbers taking on meanings that are specific to certain people and circumstances. Thornton's OCD tendencies inspired him to write a song called "Always Countin."
Singer and actor Justin Timberlake has said that he suffers from both attention-deficit disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. "You try living with that," he laments. "It's complicated." Timberlake's OCD behaviors include an obsession with lining objects up and feeling that he absolutely must have a certain food item in the house at all times.
As previously mentioned, the billionaire business tycoon, movie maker, aviator, and later recluse, Howard Hughes, was portrayed outstandingly by Leo DiCaprio in the movie Aviator. Hughes greatly feared contamination. He contrived elaborate schemes and produced manuals of instructions for his staff to follow involving general hygiene and methods to avoid touching his food. He lay naked in darkened "germ free" rooms with tissue boxes on his feet in a belief this protected him from germs.
For several years the film actress followed a rigorous set of rituals. The day began with exactly two cups of coffee. At a precise time, she would exit her apartment, then, walking at exactly the same speed at previous days, would follow precisely the same route. Her timing was impeccable. She would arrive at the “walk” signs exactly when they were in her favour, which meant she could avoid having to stop. Moore says having children helped put an end to her so-called “lucky way.”
Sin City actress and business entrepreneur, Jessica Alba, found that compulsive rituals gave her an increased sense of control. She told CosmoGirl that “a panic would come over me and I had to do something, and once I did it, I was OK.” Alba’s rituals included unplugging everything in the house and double-checking that every door was locked.