OCD in Media #2: Scrubs

Michael J. Fox as Dr. Kevin Casey, NBC

I really like the show Scrubs. Even though I have no interest in entering the medical field I still find the characters pretty funny. There are two episodes of this long-running show that feature a character with OCD (season 3, episodes 12 and 13). The character is Dr. Kevin Casey, a visiting doctor at the hospital. He is admired by all of the other characters for having two specialties and being incredibly smart.

Yet he also has OCD and it definitely gets in the way of his work at times. Dr. Kevin Casey has to step into a room “correctly,” has to tap items, rereads material, worries his drinks will get contaminated, can’t use public restrooms, etc. He even has to leave work just to use the restroom which takes up a lot of his time. 

There are many, many things I like about the portrayal of OCD in these episodes and I only have one complaint!

Note on watching the episodes: Scrubs is available on Netflix and Amazon Instant Video! 

thumbs upWhat I liked:

  • Uses humor to tackle a tough topic but remains accurate about what OCD is
  • Gives Dr. Kevin Casey other traits as well, not just OCD
  • Has Dr. Kevin Casey be very open about having OCD and he is not discriminated against because of this
  • Shows many ways OCD can affect someone and that the thoughts/rituals/stress is almost always there
  • Shows how strong the urge is to do a compulsion
  • Mentions Dr. Kevin Casey had to take time off from school because of how severe his OCD became
    • But still has Dr. Kevin Casey end up being a successful doctor (because OCD can be overcome!)
  • Raises the question of does the OCD help him be a successful doctor, hurt his ability to be a successful doctor, or both
  • The final scene of episode 12
    • Acknowledges that OCD is a serious condition and shows what it’s like to be “imprisoned in your own brain”
    • Mentions meeting new people, having extra stress, etc. makes the symptoms worse
    • Mentions that several hours can be spent on a ritual

I don’t want to give to many spoilers but the end of episode 12 is my favorite scene. It does a great job showing how frustrating OCD can become when you are stuck. Normally we hide the mental and emotional turmoil going on in our head but at this point in the show it is allowed to become visible and it is very touching scene. I felt a great deal of empathy for Dr. Kevin Casey. I can’t tell you how many times I have wanted to scream when I am stuck doing a compulsion, just like he does. I recommend watching the whole episode but if you want to watch just this scene here is a video clip!

thumbs downWhat I disliked:

  • The subplot about a character named Ted frequently jokes about his suicidal thoughts. Suicide is not something to joke about and I think they made far too light of this, especially in an episode about mental health.

Ratings: 8/10 (overall average)

Accuracy: 5/5

Educational Value: 5/5

Sensitivity: 3/5

~Morgan

OCD in Media #1: Phoebe in Wonderland

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5 thoughts on “OCD in Media #2: Scrubs

  1. I really love this post, you raise some really interesting points. I’ve tried to do a few similar review style posts on my OCD blog (losetheocdobsession.com), about a few different shows like Monk and the Big Bang Theory, and this is really what inspired me to do so. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I just recently watched this episode again. I thought it was great. I actually made a comment on twitter I think about this episode. I just love how he shows how OCD can really be a “superpower” that it can be used to launch us into bigger and better things. I like that it shows am as intelligent as most people with OCD are of above average intelligence. I also really like Micheal J Fox.

    Liked by 1 person

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