Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum Disorders
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Mental Disorders
Treatments & Interventions

by Adrian Shergold (Director)
Sundance, 2004
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Feb 17th 2006

Dirty Filthy Love DVD

Mark is an architect living in London, and he has obsessive-compulsive disorder.  His marriage is on the rocks, and he and his wife are trying a trial separation.  He is also losing his job.  He is obsessed about having clean hands and avoiding dangers and dirt, he has to check his apartment to make sure the gas is off, and he has difficulty with moving across thresholds.  He also has Tourette's, which causes him to have facial tics and to curse at inappropriate times, expressing his feelings of frustration, and also to bark like a dog at points of great stress.  However, he has not identified the nature of his strange behavior, and his doctor just tells him he is depressed.  Then he meets Charlotte who also has OCD and she explains it to him.  She even takes him to a self-help group for people with OCD, which is a bizarre experience for him.  Mark starts to get more insight into his problems, but he is not able to control his behavior any better.  He obsesses about his wife and becomes extremely jealous when she starts getting involved with other men.  His life deteriorates and he becomes more isolated.

While mental illness is often a terrible experience, and it can ruin people's lives, it can be funny too.  Psychiatrists sometimes joke with each other about their patients, and this should not mistaken for laughing at their patients.  It can be a way of empathizing with their patients' problems, and also a way of letting off steam.  People who behave in odd ways often joke about it themselves, which can relieve their embarrassment about it or help them bond with other people over it.  Those who are alarmed that Dirty Filthy Love is a comedy about serious mental illness should be reassured that it is a very compassionate portrayal and we are led to sympathize with Mark all the way through the film, even when he is at his most bizarre.  The storyline is pretty conventional, but it has several strong emotional moments involving not only Mark but also the other members of the OCD group.  Much of the film is actually quite sad, and some moments are upsetting.  The film ends on a hopeful note, however. 

The DVD has no commentary, but there is a short piece with interviews with cast and crew.  The acting is strong, especially by Michael Sheen playing Mark. 


© 2006 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.


Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island, and editor of Metapsychology Online Review.  His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.


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