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Marc Summers and OCD

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  • Marc Summers and OCD

    I think it's pretty well known, at least among classic Nickelodeon enthusiasts, that game show host Marc Summers has, or at least had at the time, obsessive-compulsive disorder. I bring this topic up for two reasons: first, because I'm a huge classic Nick fan, probably like most of you. And second, because I also have a (fairly mild) form of OCD myself, and have since childhood.

    People are sometimes surprised to learn that Marc Summers had OCD for obvious reasons - the Nick shows he was involved with in the 80s and 90s were well known for incorporating (or maybe even being based around) stunts that involved the contestants getting really messy, and that was likely torture for a person with OCD. Now, I'm by no means an expert on OCD, but being afflicted with the disorder does give me some perspective. For starters, there's a range of severity to the disorder, as there are in most medical conditions - some people are essentially disabled due to OCD, while others can fairly easily tolerate a more mild form. Also, there's a lot of variety to the symptoms of OCD. In other words, the things that "bother" one person with OCD may not have any significance to another person with OCD.

    Using myself as an example - and I won't go in to full detail here, but enough to give an example of what I mean - I've personally never been a "neat freak" or had problems with messes. I'm not particularly well organized. And, as a child of the 90s, I greatly enjoyed watching all the messy Nick game shows. In fact, I DID get to live out the dreams of almost every 90s kid - by the time I was in high school, I had been slimed with green slime, and had been pied in my face more than once. And I have nothing but AWESOME memories of those experiences - it didn't bother me in the least, despite my OCD. The things that did bother me, if you are interested, are mostly limited to compulsive "checking" - for example, when I was in school I'd repeatedly check that my completed homework was safely in my backpack to take the school, even though I KNEW it was already there (the good news there is I very rarely ever forgot my homework ). Even today I sometimes catch myself double- and triple-checking that I locked my doors or turned off the lights in my home when I leave. The other thing that "bothers" me, especially as a youngster, was being startled or surprised. Fire drills at school, for example, used to TERRIFY me, just because the alarm would go off suddenly with no warning. Or to use a more slapstick-y example, to contrast against the sliming and pieings - I once volunteered to go in a dunk tank at a block party, I was probably 12 or 13 or so, which was kind of the most severe time of this OCD. A dunk tank, if you don't know, is that carnival game where some unlucky kid sits fully clothed on a platform above a tank of water. The platform is connected to a target mechanism, and when the target is struck by a tennis ball, the seat collapses, plunging the poor kid into the icy waters in the tank. Now my friends had all taken a turn in the dunk tank, and talked me into doing so (going so far to say that if I was happy to get slimed then a dunk tank should be no big deal.) Well I actually HATED it. It wasn't going in the water that bothered me, or even the feeling of being "dunked" and having the seat drop out from under you. What bothered me was the UNCERTAINTY of not knowing whether any given throw at the target would dunk me or not. I actually would have been fine if instead of throwing balls at the target, the kids could just go up and hit the target with their hands, so at least I'd KNOW when I was going to get dunked. So I hope that kind of explains it.

    Anyway, enough about me, and back to Marc Summers. I'm wondering if there's any DEFINITIVE sources on the extent to which Marc's OCD affected his hosting of these shows. I think there's a lot of misunderstanding about OCD, and it seems like there's just an assumption that Marc would have been a neat freak and would have been completely freaked out by taking the odd pie to the face. Because I know from experience that it's completely possible that his OCD didn't really affect his work (or at least that particular part of his work) at all. So just wondering if anyone has any inside information.

  • #2
    Marc was once on a television show (something on HGTV I believe) a few years back that went into some detail about his OCD. I think it was around the time he was hosting Unwrapped on the Food Network. They visited his home where he talked about his level of OCD and how it affected his personal and professional life. He was a neatfreak; they showed him smoothing out and checking the rugs in his home. I think he did shows like Double Dare to help him with some of his symptoms and deal with his anxieties. He wrote a book about it as well, but I don't remember the title at this time.