Date of Award


First Advisor

Anne O'Dwyer

Second Advisor

Jamie Hutchinson


Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a mental illness that affects millions of people worldwide. Yet, despite its prevalence, many individuals suffer in silence, or hide their symptoms, most often out of shame. Thus, OCD is commonly referred to by mental health professionals as the “secret disease”. This thesis examines the history, symptomatology, and possible causes of OCD, and the way in which the often misunderstood condition is represented in popular media. By evaluating the types of representations found in novels, films, and television series, this thesis considers the way in which such representations accurately and inaccurately represent the experience of OCD, as well as inform and reflect lay perceptions of the disorder. The last chapter constitutes a series of prose poems I have written to illustrate my own experience of OCD. The thesis concludes with a discussion of my hopes for how the disorder may be better understood and more accurately represented in the future.