Phenomenology and Epidemiology of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

John E. Calamari, Heather M. Chik, Noelle K. Pontarelli and Brandon L. DeJong

in The Oxford Handbook of Obsessive Compulsive and Spectrum Disorders

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780195376210
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Phenomenology and Epidemiology of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder


Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a complex, often debilitating syndrome that significantly diminishes quality of life. Although the exact prevalence of OCD is unclear, estimates suggest that it is a common form of psychopathology in the West and throughout the world. A challenge to researchers and clinicians is the significant heterogeneity of OCD. Initial heterogeneity research points to important subtypes of the disorder. Elucidation of disorder heterogeneity might advance etiologic theory and treatment research, and suggest where OCD or OCD-like conditions should be placed in a comprehensive psychiatric disorder nosology. OCD more often occurs with other psychiatric disorders, and evaluation of OCD comorbidity will help clarify this condition’s relation to anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and conditions posited to be part of a broad OCD spectrum. Despite significant advancements, much work remains before we can fully understand obsessional disorders and the relation of OCD to commonly experienced negative intrusive thoughts.

Keywords: Obsessive compulsive disorder; phenomenology; epidemiology; comorbidity; heterogeneity

Article.  28210 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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