Lowering the Bar to Help Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Vogue Magazine, June 2014

BEAUTY, Editor: Sarah Brown

Little Miss Perfect

“Hyper organized and strikingly neat, Jancee Dunn wonders if she’s in control of her life or if a need for order is controlling her.”

“I call myself a perfectionist. My husband calls me crazy… Lately, however, I’ve found that control is no longer a means to an end. Because there is not end.  I am forever patrolling the premises, straightening and sorting…”

OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a personality disorder that affects an estimated 2% of the population according to Dr. Jeff Szymanski, Ph.D., executive director of the OCD Foundation and a clinical instructor of psychology at Harvard Medical School.  It is also an anxiety disorder in which a person’s “behavior conflicts with her ideal self-image, making her miserable.”

Miss Dunn, who states “maintaining nearly impossible standards is my way of creating an ordered little oasis in a chaotic world,” discusses OCD with Dr. Szymanski and they decide that she may just be an unhealthy perfectionist, which, however, may sabotage one’s health, relationships and work.  He does not suggest that she relinquish her obsessive tendencies, but “lower the bar” a little.  She decides to “mix up her schedule by taking breaks” and some other tasks to slow down.  Her goal is, “to teach myself , in the words of T.S.Eliot, ti care and not to care…to sit still.”

In track and field sports,  raising the bar for high jumpers, for horses, or for track runners makes it more difficult.  Lowering the bar makes it easier.  In this article, Ms. Dunn has decided that she doesn’t have to be perfect all the time; she can lower the bar by being more relaxed.

 

 

 

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