Psychological Models of Obsessive Compulsive and Spectrum Disorders

Stephanie E. Cassin and Neil A. Rector

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

 Psychological Models of Obsessive Compulsive and Spectrum Disorders

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The current chapter provides an overview of psychoanalytic and behavioral theories of obsessive compulsive disorder and related conditions (i.e., hoarding, hypochondriasis, body dysmorphic disorder, trichotillomania, and tic disorders), and reviews the empirical support for these psychological theories. While Freud correctly ascribed compulsive rituals to an anxiety-reducing role, the more fundamental tenets of his drive model of obsessional development, and the subsequent focus on the role of defense mechanisms, have remained largely untested. In contrast, behavioral theories of obsessive compulsive and spectrum disorders revolutionized the psychological conceptualization and treatment of these disorders, and there is strong evidence accumulated over the past 40 years demonstrating the seminal role of operant conditioning processes in the maintenance of obsessive compulsive and related spectrum disorders. The evidence supporting the role of classical conditioning in symptom development is less clear; however, learning theory has contributed a partial understanding of the etiology of these conditions.

Keywords: obsessive compulsive disorder; hoarding; hypochondriasis; body dysmorphic disorder; trichotillomania; tic disorders; psychological; behavioral; psychoanalytic; conditioning; vulnerability.

Article.  16475 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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