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Extreme OCD Camp

Tue Jul 30, 9-10pm, BBC3

BBC3 has become a mouthpiece for young people with mental illness and this latest series highlights obsessive compulsive disorder. Six teens and early-twenty-somethings with varying forms of OCD including fear of contamination, dread of the number 13, and severely intrusive thoughts head to Washington state in the US for a ten-day programme of exposure therapy.

Under the care of experts, they focus on confronting their anxieties by saying them out loud and increasing time between rituals they’re compelled to act upon. What initially looks like an activity holiday set to a cool soundtrack proves to be intense treatment for a vulnerable group desperate to retrain their brains and banish the thoughts and actions that prevent them for leading a normal life. What’s not explained – in the first episode at least – is how much OCD is psychological and how much is brain chemistry.

It’s effectively one long therapy session where the focus is less on the source of the condition and more about the sufferers. But the likeable participants are all intelligent, sensitive and in good company – there’s a long list of famous OCD suffers that includes Einstein, Michelangelo and Scorsese. Anyone who’s got kids, or indeed a heart, will feel for them.

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