OC3? Or simply keeping up with the Joneses?

Editor’s Note: Author Michelle Booth is a student in the fall 2010 Women’s Studies Program Special Topics course, That Chick is Crazy: Women and Madness, at The University of Akron.

Recently while surfing the net, I came across an article that I found offensive.  The article written by Alison Finch, a self-declared self-esteem coach, is titled “Do You Suffer from OC3?”  It was written for her website self-esteem4woman.com

The basic premise of the article is that there are many young women out there who are overcome by feelings of jealousy and insecurity, and Finch Finch holds the cure — and the diagnosis, as it turns out.

Finch begins her article by describing Obsessive Compulsive Comparing and Competing Disorder, or OC3 as she nicknames it for those of us who can’t remember that many words.  She then goes on to compare OC3 with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), adding the OCD definition that she obtained from Wikipedia. God forbid this woman would consult an actual medical journal.

Unfortunately, Finch fails to mention that OC3 is unlike OCD and ADD in that those are disorders recognized by the American Psychological Association, and that OC3 is something that she just made up, or “coined,” as she so eloquently puts it.

Finch goes on to describe OC3 by using remarks such as “OC3 is a condition that my experience suggests affects far more woman than men.” and “It seems to be more prevalent in younger woman (say, below the age of 35)…”  Finch later declares that OC3 is not a psychiatric disorder, but a psychological condition and that it is curable.

What??!! “That my experience suggests,” “it seems” and “curable”? What kind of statistical evidence backs this?  Was research of any kind done to obtain this information, or is Finch just completely pulling this out of her checkbook? 

At this point in the article I began to ask myself, who is this woman? And what gives her the authority to diagnose and “cure” such disorders?  As far as I can tell, those questions remain unanswered.  Finch Finch herself is not a psychologist, psychiatrist, or a medical doctor, but just an entrepreneur with a website that is oozing with advice about how to overcome OC3 and how to diagnose yourself by using her online questionnaires.  Gee, I wonder if the results of those questionnaires will lead you to place items into your online shopping cart. 

Finch says she has obtained her information about women through e-mails from the members of her website.  In one example she uses, a member talks about how she compares herself to other people and the possessions they have.  Another woman complains about how her boyfriend looks at other women and flirts with them, and how this makes her feel inadequate.  If Finch really had these women’s best interests at heart, shouldn’t her advice to them be to focus on themselves and to dump their loser boyfriends?      

But what does Finch recommend? What is her cure for her made-up condition, you may be asking.  Well, the following are some examples of her advice:

  • Observe and judge, instead of comparing and competing.  (Instead of being jealous of an attractive woman in a bar say to yourself “This is a great bar.  Wow, look at her she’s stunning and she has great boobs.  She obviously feels confident with the way she looks….”)
  • Give him the benefit of the doubt when he says, “it’s no big deal”.  (If your man appreciates attractive women, but claims to have feelings for you, believe him for a change!)
  • Read my Self-esteem eWorkbook “Boosting Your Self-worth in Social Situations.”
  • Don’t take on the world; it’s too big!  (If you try to compete with the whole world, you will inevitably feel worthless in comparison.)
  • Do not let yourself be “the jealous type”  (If you get jealous, it’s your problem.)

Maybe I’m missing something, but I wonder if Finch would be giving the same advice to men about comparing and competing or taking on the world.  This is not some new designer disorder created by Finch, but a very common feeling a lot of men, women, young, and old, sometimes feel in their lives, a normal case of keeping up with the Joneses.  Perhaps Finch Finch should stick to responding to the e-mails of her members instead of writing books and articles to cure the rest of us.  I, for one, am not interested.