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OCD in the Anthropocene:
Navigating a World Under Planetary Threats 

2-3 June 2023
Western University, London, ON, CANADA

The conference will be HYBRID*. Free registration here

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) affects up to 3% of the general population and is considered to be one of the most debilitating mental disorders. While OCD is a well-known disorder for its stereotypical representations (e.g. excessive urges for cleanliness, perfection, and order), it is actually highly misunderstood. Starting in 2019, the goal of OCD in Society has been to provide a platform to explore the social meanings constituting the obsessions, the nosology of OCD, and the lives of affected people. What can we learn about society through a critical engagement with OCD? How do specific ideologies interact with sufferers' obsessions? How is OCD represented in different artistic forms, and what are the challenges in translating a mental disorder into different artistic modalities? How can our understandings of OCD change by focusing on the social aspect of the disorder? And ultimately, what profits can therapists gain from such explorations? The conference thus joins OCD sufferers, artists, charities, and academics who work in the humanities and qualitative social sciences to investigate these issues.


The theme of the fourth OCD in Society Conference is 'OCD in the Anthropocene – navigating a world under planetary existential threats'

Starting with the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, the Anthropocene is our current geological epoch. Marked by unprecedented human-made global disruption, the Anthropocene presents existential threats that might have never been encountered before. Global warming, biodiversity loss, rising sea levels, and climate-change-induced human displacement are just some of the many challenges we will continue to face. The aim of this conference is to consider OCD in relation to the Anthropocene. How do OCD experiences interact with, and respond to, issues of climate change? What are the implications of this epoch on OCD sufferers? How can the Arts and Humanities generate connections between OCD and planetary matters?  What is the role of OCD artists and activists in the conversation? How do matters of race, social class, and ‘disability’ intersect with these discussions?

The conference aims to shed light on the interface(s) between any aspect of OCD and the planet’s current circumstances. The OCD in Society conference hopes to bring together those whose lives have been touched by OCD – patients, family members, creators of all forms, activists, scholars, and clinicians – so they can share their stories, strengthen the community, and move together through uncertain times.

Proposals might include, but are not limited to:


  • Conceptual histories of OCD

  • Reflections on OCD through the uncertain future

  • Representations of OCD in literature, film or media

  • Alternative (historical, anthropological, social, artistic) theories and interpretations of OCD

  • Spatial practices of OCD

  • Practice-based approaches to OCD

  • Ritual and regulation

  • OCD and self/identity (and its intersection with gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality, religion, disability, etc.)

  • OCD and linguistic practices (narratives, metaphors, stance-taking, lexical choice, etc.)

  • OCD as a diagnostic label (e.g. its implications and usefulness for sufferers, therapists, society)

  • Critical theory and OCD (e.g. Marxism, Feminism, Queer Theory, Crip Theory, Mad Theory, etc.)

  • Stigma and OCD

  • OCD and emotions

  • OCD and its interaction with social norms

  • OCD’s interference with social relationships

  • OCD community’s/charities’ involvement in raising awareness

  • Questioning therapeutic assumptions in treating OCD

  • OCD sufferers’ access to treatment

Ideally, proposals ought to touch upon “OCD in the Anthropocene”. But given the novelty of the theme, work that somewhat falls outside this call for papers shall be accepted as well. Please send a 300-word abstract (references not included in word count) to this form by 21st
April 2023. Selected presentations will consist of a 20-minute talk and a 10-minute Q&A. If you have any questions, please contact
Matheus Sanita Lima at


*The details on the streaming method/platform will be provided closer to the event.

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