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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an Axis I disorder characterized by recurrent intrusive thoughts, impulses, or images (obsessions) that generate great anxiety and distress. Repetitive behavior or ritualistic mental acts aimed at counteracting obsessions or otherwise preventing or reducing anxiety often are present as well (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). Once thought to be largely intractable, research results over the past few decades indicate that a particular form of behavior therapy, exposure plus response prevention, can be particularly effective in treating OCD symptoms (Emmelkamp as cited in Trull & Prinstein, 2013, p. 408).

The obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) shows symptoms of both obsessions and compulsions.  Obsessions are intrusive, repetitive, distressing thoughts or images.  The most common themes are contamination, harm coming to others, sexual, aggressive, and religious.  Compulsions are repetitive, stereotyped, and unnecessary behaviours.  The most common rituals are washing, checking, repeating, reassurance seeking, and ordering (Skuse, Bruce, Dowdney, & Mrazek, 2011, p. 161).

The task force recommended that obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) be listed in DSM-5 under a new grouping called “Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders.” Once again, this move is not meant to minimize the role of anxiety in this disorder, but rather to shift emphasis to the unwanted urges that characterize obsessions and compulsions. In fact, OCD may be joined in its new grouping by several other disorders - including hoarding disorder, hair pulling disorder, and skin picking disorder - each of which involves unwanted urges of one kind or another (Comer, 2010, p. 148).


Comer, R. J. (2010). Abnormal psychology (8th ed.). New York, NY: Worth Publishers.

Skuse, D., Bruce, H., Dowdney, L., & Mrazek. D. (2011). Child psychology and psychiatry: Frameworks for practice (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Trull, T. J. & Prinstein, M. J. (2013). Clinical Psychology (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

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