After last week’s premiere of Obsessed, the new Intervention-like show about people with extreme anxiety disorders that they’re desperate to tame, I said it wasn’t sensational or exploitative. I stand by the not-exploitative part, because I really do think people are being helped (both on the show and out there in the world), but, um, yeah, after last night: it’s kinda sensational. But if that’s what it takes to help all those people! Once again, last night’s show had two subjects, Nicole and Trina. Nicole’s disorder is rare in that it’s centered around just two people: her mother and her brother. Nicole can’t stand certain things they do with their hands, like touch something softly, or when her mother says the hard “K” sound. She responds by chiding them about “soft hands,” by repeating the hand motion they made, but harder, or by loudly saying the “K” sound herself. It’s weird but not unlike a lot of less extreme forms of the disorder, and again, variety is the essence of OCD. Watching Nicole frustratedly reminding her mother and brother last night, it occurred to me that her OCD would be cured if her family members would just LEARN THE GODDAMN RULES.
Trina, on the other hand, had a totally different anxiety disorder. Trina looks like a mild-mannered, quiet, sweet student, but she secretly wants to kill everyone she sees with a knife or a gun. Eek. They’ve gone there already.
The show focuses on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, where the subject is forced to become used to changing his or her response to whatever triggers their compulsions through repeated exposure to the triggers. In Nicole’s case, she had to sit there and not make a sound while her mother read aloud from a passage containing instances of the hard “K” sound, and while her mother and brother broke the soft hand rules repeatedly. Nicole’s therapist, Dr. Craig, was more like an interventionist, hosting the family therapy and keeping everyone on track. Dr. Shana, the doctor who pretended to have her period all over her subject’s bathroom last week to expose him to his germ compulsions, on the other hand, gave Trina a bunch of knives and asked her to try to kill her:
Now, OBVIOUSLY Dr. Shana is a professional, and knows Trina isn’t going to kill her (though a few minutes later in the show, Trina held a gun, but not pointed at anyone, so…). I just think it’s interesting that the other two doctors we’ve seen have kept very professional boundaries, while Dr. Shana is all about everyone working their shit out on her body. Basically, where I’m going with this is Dr. Shana is the star of this show and should be in every episode. What Jeff Van Vonderen was to Intervention, Dr. Shana is to Obsessed. She even has her own catchphrase already: “Can I get a zero to ten on (name of trigger)?” (Though it’s very unlikely that she’ll ever beat last week’s out-of-the-gate commenter-quoted gem, “Can I get a zero to ten on tampon residue and vaginal secretions?”) You can watch the entire episode on repeats or on the A&E site.