The O.C.’s Mischa Barton Shares Her Struggles With “Trauma”

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Mischa Barton is getting vulnerable about the tough times in her life. 

The O.C. star reflected on how she is still working through the trauma caused by rising to fame at age 17. While playing the glamorous Marissa Cooper on the Fox show, which aired from 2003-2007, she said issues started to arise in her life.

“You can go to therapy every day for the rest of your life,” the Neighbours actress told The Times in an interview published Oct. 8, “but there’s just a certain amount of trauma [from] all that I went through, particularly in my early 20s, that just doesn’t go away overnight.”

As for how Mischa handled the notoriety at such a young age?

“I don’t think I was fully prepared for that level of fame,” she confessed. “Because it has never been something that I have sought out. I really would much rather be anonymous.”

Mischa, 37, also detailed how she was treated much older than her actual age, which gives her pause to reflect upon. 

“You do look back, and you were 18 dating 34-year-olds,” she said. “With hindsight, you’re like, ‘Yeah, that was weird.'”

After being on The O.C. for six seasons, Mischa exited the show, but the paparazzi continued to follow her. She noted, “It was all very Hunger Games.”

Dave Benett/Getty Images for Grove Gallery

“The paparazzi attention was certainly not ‘healthy’ for romantic relationships,” Mischa continued. “Everything is just so heightened. You depend on the person so much more, you think you’re that much more in love because they’re your grip on some sort of normalcy.”

She added, “I was stalked. I did go a little bit nuts at [one] point. I just felt really helpless.”

And along with the photographers, she said blogs were also attacking her.

“Nothing I did was good enough,” Mischa told the outlet. “It was the peak of cruelty about young women’s bodies. It was wild. People feel so entitled to you and your body and your image. It’s a strange feeling. It’s strange.”

Donato Sardella/WireImage

Flash forward to 2023, and Mischa is happy with how people express their emotions more openly than when she rose to fame.

“That’s one of the better things about society these days—people are more willing to talk about having had depression or anxiety,” she added, “or it’s not so taboo.”

And when it comes to her goals for the future, Mischa is content in her current chapter.

“I’m happy being single at the moment,” she admitted. “Because it comes up, the whole thing of ‘Do you wanna settle down and have kids?’ I am a weirdly traditional, conventional person when it comes to stuff like that, more so than people think. But it really depends on the person you’re with.” 

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