You might think mental health professionals would take exception to “Monk’s” use of phobias and obsessive-
compulsive disorder (OCD) for comic fodder, but you’d be wrong.
The Anxiety Disorders Assn. of America “has always supported and appreciated the efforts of the producers of ‘Monk,’ because they have increased awareness of obsessive-compulsive disorder,” ADAA prexy-CEO Jerilyn Ross says.
“Even as a comedy, the show demystifies this mental illness respectfully and makes people aware of what someone suffering from OCD experiences. It also lets people know that if they have OCD, they are not alone and they can get help.”
“Monk” co-creator David Hoberman, who has dealt with his own OCD and phobias, serves on ADAA’s board and has received a Voice Award, co-sponsored by the American Psychiatric Foundation, for his and the show’s efforts. The ADAA even had Hoberman, “Monk” star Tony Shalhoub and actor/emcee/ comic Howie Mandel make PSAs for OCD awareness this past spring.
Professional support for the show dates back to its beginning, when then-exec director Patricia Perkins of the Obsessive-Compulsive Foundation said, “It’s very funny. I have OCD, and that’s my sense of humor.”
Perkins said when she surveyed others with the disorder that “some quibbled, but overall, they were thinking, ‘He’s such an adorable character.’ ” And she noted his OCD was “integral to him being a great detective.”
Hoberman goes further, calling Monk “a hero with a mental disorder” who is something of a role model in that the main character is able to catch a criminal in each show while dealing with disabilities.
Shalhoub says he gets letters from OCD sufferers thanking the show for letting them laugh at themselves and for humanizing the condition. “So I feel we’ve treated the disorder in a sensitive way,” the star says. “We’ve mined a lot of comedy out of it, but I don’t think we’ve exploited it.”
And Hoberman notes: “The show is pointing out that … we all stand in the way of ourselves (and) that people with mental disorders can get help.”