Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a disorder of the brain where people experience obsessive thoughts, images, ideas or impulses – and they can’t get past them. The day-to-day existence for severe OCD sufferers is dire. Untreated, they lead lives of self-punishment, fear and isolation that can result in job loss, broken families, bankruptcy and in some cases death. “The OCD Project” challenges six severe OCD sufferers to face their fears in a bold move to better their lives by participating in twenty-one days of all-immersive therapy called Exposure and Response Prevention. World-renowned anxiety specialist Dr. David Tolin facilitates this proven treatment that encourages patients to face their worst fears in an attempt to stop the vicious cycle of the disease in eight, hour-long episodes. “The OCD Project” is set to premiere Thursday, May 27th at 10PM*. To get a preview of the upcoming season, watch “The OCD Project” trailer on VH1.com.
Most people are familiar with the “garden variety” symptoms associated with mild OCD; fear of contamination and germs, excessive hand washing and “re-checking” behavior – did I leave the coffee pot on? However, “The OCD Project” delves into the far more sinister world of severe OCD with six patients ranging in age from 18 to 45. Their life-halting obsessions revolve around more intense, irrational fears that are only alleviated by never-ending rituals. The fears of killing a pedestrian every time they are behind the wheel of a car, causing a child to develop cancer, HIV contamination, morphing into a serial killer or the ability to cause death or disaster through mind control are just some of the obsessive thoughts plaguing the patients on the series.
Under medical supervision and the watchful eye of Dr. Tolin, the six participants of “The OCD Project” move into a house for three weeks to undergo the grueling treatment process known as Exposure and Response Prevention. This treatment is founded on the principle that OCD can be conquered through repeated and prolonged exposure to feared situations, activities, or thoughts. The severe cases of OCD featured in “The OCD Project” require intense and mind-jarring exposures. For example, the mother who believes her son will get cancer must perform a funeral & eulogy for her dead son, the girl with HIV phobia has to touch puddles on skid row and rub her face, and the woman who washes her hands for hours a day won’t be able to shower or touch any water for three days. Exposure and Response Prevention is widely recognized as a best practice for the treatment of OCD. In this program, a group of OCD patients will live under one roof throughout the course of therapy to address the illness and provide round-the-clock support for each other.
The Exposure and Response Prevention approach can appear severe and horrifying but viewers will ultimately see why these highly intelligent, creative and empathetic participants whose lives are spiraling out of control need to undergo such harsh treatment. The series will chronicle each participant’s journey into the debilitating doubts that consume their lives and witness the amazing transformations this treatment can provide.
Not all will complete the program, but in the end, the patients will learn they’re not alone, that together they can finally confront and overcome the compulsions, and that life does not have to be the limited existence they’ve lived for so long.
Viewers can catch a sneak peek of the season’s first episode on VH1.com on Monday, May 24th – four days before the on-air premiere. Subsequent episodes will be available on VH1.com the morning after they air. Additional video content from “The OCD Project” including clips of Dr. Tolin answering viewer questions, show extras and highlight clips from each episode will be available on VH1.com and on VH1 Mobile throughout the season.
“The OCD Project” is executive produced by JD Roth, Todd A. Nelson, Adam Greener and Matt Assmus for 3 Ball Productions. Jeff Olde, Jill Holmes, and Noah Pollack are executive producers for VH1.
About Dr. Tolin:
Dr. Tolin is the founder and Director of the Anxiety Disorders Center at The Institute of Living. He is also Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Tolin received his Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas, and completed a predoctoral internship at Tufts University School of Medicine/VA Medical Center, Boston.
A board certified clinical psychologist and expert on cognitive-behavioral therapy, Dr. Tolin is the recipient of the award for Distinguished Contribution to the Science of Psychology from the Connecticut Psychological Association. Since 2003 he has served as a principal investigator and scientific reviewer for the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Tolin is the author of over 100 journal articles and book chapters. He is co-author of the books Buried in Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding and Treating Trichotillomania: Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Hair Pulling and Related Problems.
Dr. Tolin has been a recurrent guest on programs such as The Today Show, Good Morning America, and The Oprah Winfrey Show. He was also a featured expert on the A&E series Hoarders.