October 4th, 2010
While we all have our own little neurotic tendencies, crediting every little idiosyncrasy to having OCD isn’t clinically correct and may even be offensive to some who really do suffer from the condition. Obsessive-compulsive disorder can affect people at different levels of severity and by manifesting itself through different behaviors or rituals, but it can really interfere with a person’s everyday activities, commitments and schedule, relationships, and ability to deal with anxiety and stress. If you’re a nursing student who’s wondering how to treat your patients or if you want to understand a friend’s OCD a little better, know that it’s actually a pretty common condition that affects people from all backgrounds. Here are 50 famous sufferers of OCD who’ve managed to control their condition and find success in Hollywood, science, music, and other fields.
These writers have contributed some of the most important works in world literature and pop culture.
- Marcel Proust: While he wasn’t officially diagnosed — that we know of — the la recherche du temps perdu writer is thought to have had OCD.
- Samuel Johnson: Poet, critic, essayist and Dictionary of the English Language writer Dr. Samuel Johnson had tics, tilted his head to one side, had TS, and was obsessive-compulsive.
- Martin Scorsese: Acclaimed director and author Martin Scorsese is said to have OCD and addressed the condition in two films, The Aviator and What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This, his first short film.
- Charles Dickens: Literary icon Charles Dickens was a master at critiquing and documenting Victorian society, and also demonstrated mild obsessive compulsive tendencies, according to experts who have analyzed his works.
Sports Stars and Entertainers
Despite their grueling schedules, these entertainers, including actors, directors and sports stars, have managed their OCD.
- Woody Allen: Woody Allen’s neurotic tendencies are just as famous as his movies, so it’s not really a surprise that the writer/director/actor also has OCD.
- David Beckham: Soccer superstar and Armani underwear model David Beckham is such a neat freak, his preference for tidiness and organization are actually signs of OCD. He’s obsessed with order and is always putting things into pairs, in hotels, his closet and the refrigerator.
- Billy Bob Thornton: Billy Bob Thornton has several phobias and is also plagued by OCD, which inspired his song “Always Countin.”
- Alec Baldwin: The lovable bully Alec Baldwin is a genius at comedy and a sufferer of OCD, admitting that the condition disrupts his life and schedule.
- Leonardo DiCaprio: DiCaprio has admitted to struggling with OCD, citing gum stains on the sidewalk and doorways as triggers. He also revealed that he allowed his OCD tendencies to worsen when playing the obsessive-compulsive Howard Hughes in The Aviator.
- Paul Gascoigne: Now-retired English soccer star Paul Gascoigne struggled with several mental illnesses and conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, bulimia and alcoholism.
- Jennifer Love Hewitt: Actress Jennifer Love Hewitt says she can’t sleep at night if closet or cabinet doors are open.
- Charlie Sheen: Besides having a problem with drugs, Sheen also struggles with OCD.
- Rose McGowan: As a young girl, Rose McGowan and her family belonged to the Christian cult Children of God, was unfairly sent to drug rehab at 14, and became emancipated from her family at 15. She also has agoraphobia and OCD.
- Tim Howard: Another English soccer player on this list is Tim Howard, who has TS and OCD and has said that school was a challenge.
- Charlize Theron: Theron’s OCD manifests itself in the form of excessive cleaning.
- Cameron Diaz: Actress Cameron Diaz has OCD when it comes to doorknobs, and obsessively cleans them to the point that paint is peeling off of the ones in her house. She’s also a hand washer.
- Dan Aykroyd: Actor and former SNL favorite Dan Aykroyd has Tourettes and may have OCD, too.
- Katy Perry: Cheeky pop star Katy Perry has admitted to succumbing to OCD tendencies when she’s over-stressed.
- Howie Mandel: TV personality and host Howie Mandel struggles with ADHD and OCD, and avoids shaking hands and touching people to avoid germs.
- Jessica Alba: Actress and fashion favorite Jessica Alba has OCD, obsessing over keeping things neat and perfect.
- Howard Stern: Outspoken radio host Howard Stern chronicled his OCD in his book Miss America and has struggled with the need to complete different rituals to distract him from his fears and stress at entering the world of broadcasting.
- Jim Eisenreich: Former baseball star Jim Eisenreich was diagnosed with Tourette’s during his professional career.
- Marc Summers: TV and talk show host Marc Summers has talked about his OCD on Oprah and other national talk shows and even wrote a book about his condition, Everything in Its Place: My Trials and Triumphs with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
- Ian Puleston-Davies: British actor Ian Puleston-Davies had admitted to having a problem with germs.
- Stanley Kubrick: Gifted director Stanley Kubrick is thought to have had OCD, too.
- Emily Lloyd: BAFTA nominee and National Society of Film Critics nominee Emily Lloyd was unable to sustain a strong career due to her OCD, for which she sought professional treatment.
- Jeremy Kyle: Talk show host Jeremy Kyle used his own show to reveal his OCD, which manifests itself in list making and licking things clean.
- Roseanne Barr: Self-proclaimed “domestic goddess” Roseanne won several awards for her TV show but also struggled with OCD.
- Kathie Lee Gifford: Long-time talk show host Kathie Lee Gifford has had her share of publicly documented challenges in her personal life, and is also said to have OCD.
- Harrison Ford: Indiana Jones was afraid of snakes, and Harrison Ford is so terrified of spiders and reptiles, that he says he’s OCD about it.
- Justin Timberlake: Multi-talented Timberlake is ADD, which we can see, but he also has OCD, preoccupying himself with lining things up perfectly.
- Steven Gerrard: The Liverpool soccer captain is a hand washer, according to his wife.
- John Melendez: Howard Stern’s frequent radio guest John Melendez has OCD just like his boss.
These business magnates also face or have faced challenges with OCD.
- Donald Trump: According to Donald Trump, teachers have “17,000 germs per square inch on their desk[s],” and won’t shake hand with them. He also won’t touch the ground floor button in an elevator because of germs.
- Howard Hughes: As we mentioned, legendary film producer and director Howard Hughes and his OCD were chronicled in Scorsese’s movie Aviator. Among other symptoms, Hughes was supposedly obsessed with the size of peas and separated them before eating them.
Historical and Political Figures
Find out which historical and political leaders had OCD.
- Stonewall Jackson: Confederate general Stonewall Jackson believed that one of his arms was longer than the other one, and is thought to have had Asperger’s and/or OCD.
- Gerald Kaufman: British Labour Party MP Gerald Kaufman used his OCD as a defense for using allotted expenses for strange purchases, like Waterford grapefruit bowls.
OCD didn’t keep these scientists from exploring and discovering natural mysteries.
- Nikola Tesla: Experts speculate that revolutionary scientist and electrical engineer Nikola Tesla had autism and OCD, obsessing over the number 3 and creating rituals around that number.
- Albert Einstein: People seem to love projecting different diseases and conditions on the eccentric Albert Einstein, including OCD.
- Charles Darwin: Some scientists and doctors believe that Darwin had autism, while the Royal College of Psychiatrists point to the scientist’s OCD tendencies.
Musicians and Artists
From pop stars to the masters, these musicians and artists also had OCD.
- Michelangelo: Michelangelo slept in his clothes and supposedly never removed his boots, leading many to believe he suffered from OCD.
- Ludwig van Beethoven: Beethoven overcame deafness and OCD, and is still one of the most important composers and musicians of all time.
- Jane Horrocks: English actress Jane Horrocks has worked to recover from her obsession with counting her blinks.
- Joey Ramone: Though he was diagnosed with schizophrenia, punk rocker Joey Ramone also had OCD.
- Cole Porter: Kiss Me, Kate lyricist and composer Cole Porter had OCD.
- Natalie Appleton: 1990s pop star Natalie Appleton, who was part of the girl group All Saints, could barely touch a tree on the reality show I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here because of her OCD.
- Warren Zevon: Rock musician and songwriter Warren Zevon befriended Billy Bob Thornton, and the two bonded over their common battles with OCD.
- Fred Durst: Fred Durst has talked a lot of $%&^ in his time, but he tries to be private about his OCD, only saying that it made touring “hell.”
- Michael Jackson: Among other conditions like gender-identity diffusion and poor self-image, Michael Jackson had “some variant of OCD,” according to New York Magazine.
- Fiona Apple: Fiona Apple was the poster child for 90s angst, but maybe she had a reason: besides having to battle her OCD which cut into her songwriting and creativity, she was made fun of for her condition by interviewer Sasha-Frere Jones.
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