The theme of this year’s OCD in Society conference is “the Future of Critical OCD Studies”. The
goal of the event is to explore how the humanities, qualitative social sciences, activism, or the
arts can offer perspectives on ways to understand and raise awareness about obsessivecompulsive disorder. This conference aims to offer a counterbalance to a predominant focus on
epidemiology, assessment, and treatment within academic and clinical literature on OCD. While
these approaches can offer insights on ways to address the suffering associated with OCD, they
also frequently overlook the ways that people make sense of OCD in their lived experiences and
how the condition is interrelated with social structures. By taking up the above theme, this
conference seeks to spark conversation about ways to understand and theorize OCD from diverse
viewpoints and explore how experiences of OCD can offer a critical lens on broader society.

The conference is sponsored by the University of Michigan Initiative on Disability Studies, the
University of Michigan School of Social Work, and the University of Michigan Department of
Anthropology. It will take place online over Zoom on May 28-29, 2021. We hope to bring
together members of the OCD community and academics from the humanities and social
sciences. We also welcome submissions from mental health professionals and researchers who
consider how humanistic or qualitative approaches might offer insights for improving care or
addressing inequality or stigma in OCD treatment. 

Possible themes for submission include, but are not limited to:

  • OCD and self/identity (e.g. identity construction and its intersections with gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality, religion, age, etc.)
  • OCD and language (e.g. narratives, metaphors, stance-taking, word choice)
  • Reflections about the categorization of OCD in mental health manuals
  • Conceptual History of OCD (e.g. different conceptualizations of OCD symptoms through time) and its derivatives (e.g. SO-OCD, ROCD, POCD, Pure-O, Harm OCD, etc.)
  • Representation of OCD in literature, film, or media (e.g. coming outstories, memoirs, news articles, etc.)
  • OCD” as a diagnostic label or category of self-identification (e.g. its implications andusefulness for sufferers, therapists, society)
  • Reading OCD through critical or social theory (e.g. Marxism, Feminism, Geography, Queer Theory, Crip Theory, Mad Theory, etc.)
  • OCD and stigma
  • OCD, emotions, and affect
  • OCD and normativity
  • OCD community’s/charities’ as actors in raising awareness

Submission Instructions
Please submit 300-word abstract to by February
15th, 2021. Presentations will consist of 20min talk + 10min Q&A. If you have any questions,
please contact Matt Hiller at