OCID – The Overwhelmed Conference Interpreter Disorder (a satirical article NOT to be taken seriously)

By Roberta Barroca


Sometimes you just gotta let off a little steam! Whether you are a conference interpreter or a medical interpreter, a court interpreter or a community interpreter, you will enjoy this hilarious article by Roberta Barroca, a Brazilian Portuguese conference interpreter. If you suffer from OCID, I hope you aren’t too far along on the spectrum! 😂

Re-posted with Roberta’s permission, including the image, from her Linkedin page at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/ocid-overwhelmed-conference-interpreter-disorder-roberta-barroca

Lorena Ortiz Schneider, e-Voice Editor


** Disclaimer: This article is intended to be humorous as it is purely satirical. No offense is intended by the author or this blog.**


[woman in distress]Are you a conference interpreter? Do you have nightmares about being late to assignments due to traffic or the alarm not going off? Do you suffer from cold sweats and tachycardia in the booth? You might be suffering from the “Overwhelmed Conference Interpreter Disorder” (hereinafter OCID). However, don’t panic just yet because the Department of Interpreters’ Wellness has carried out a promising new research and issued new guidelines for the treatment of OCID.

First important step to decide the right treatment plan for you is to find out where you are in the OCID spectrum, which ranges from MILD to SEVERE. Find symptoms and treatment plans below:


Symptoms: slight change in sleeping and eating habits. When inside an interpretation booth: dry mouth, moderate sweating and an inclination to interpret in a loud voice with clear shortness of breath.

Treatment: The traditional outpatient therapy includes the use of Bach remedies, 3 mg of melatonin to support sleep and twice a week sessions of shadowing or interpreting at home while recording the delivery and listening to it afterwards. This therapy tends to build up the interpreter’s confidence bringing fast results. Unfortunately, side effects might include an augmented ego once the disorder is tackled.


Symptoms: Significant changes in sleeping and eating habits, biting your nails, having nervous tics and pulling out hair from your eyebrows. When inside the interpretation booth: heavy sweating, tapping obsessively, clicking a pen, or otherwise being noisily annoying. When missing a word, all techniques taught to deal with the situation are immediately forgotten. The interpreter mutes completely and has to switch turns with boothmate. Interpreter’s voice varies from loud to very loud as a clear sign of anxiety.

Treatment: The intensive outpatient treatment plan includes attending group sessions at least twice a week plus one individual session a week with a licensed medical professional. Mild sedatives and melatonin are still recommended but in higher doses (talk to your physician about the exact dose for you). Meditation and yoga have been proven to significantly relieve symptoms. Common side effects include: some interpreters find total inner peace, abandon their careers and move to a cave in India where they meditate 20 hours a day and sometimes fast for up to 60 days in a row.


Symptoms: Body weight fluctuations due to not eating at all or binge eating. Sleeping cycle strongly compromised causing patient to sleep a lot more or a lot less than usual. Sleeping less is more commonly observed. Nightmares about being late to an assignment, finding a tarantula in the booth and being murdered by the boothmate are quite common. This stage of OCID might be accompanied by the compulsive utterance of obscenities. If there are sound issues in a conference, patient might uncontrollably shout at technician having delusional thoughts that the behavior might solve something. If someone stands in front of the booth, patient might have an uncontrollable urge to start banging on the booth’s window while contracting all facial muscles.

Treatment: Vacation. You, my friend, are in desperate need of a vacation. Melatonin, relaxation exercises, meditation…none of that crap will work for you. Stop being so greedy and just take a couple of days off. At least 20 days off. Go offline, find yourself a retreat or spa and get yourself daily massages. Do not reply to emails. Stop looking for translation mistakes on menus and street signs. Just chill!

When severe OCID proves resistant to treatment, there are more drastic options, including:

  • Brain surgery
  • Deep Brain Stimulation
  • Finding yourself a new career path in an area that has nothing to do with interpreting or translating.

Talk to your psychiatrist about your specific case and decide together on what’s best for you.


[Roberta Barroca]

Roberta Barroca is a journalist, translator and passionate English<>Brazilian Portuguese conference interpreter. Proud ATA and AIIC member. Gemini with Virgo rising. 36 years old. Favorite expression: “Thank you Universe!”

Image: © Martinmark | Dreamstime.com

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ata-divisions.org/ID/ocid-the-overwhelmed-conference-interpreter-disorder-a-satirical-article-not-to-be-taken-seriously/

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