Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – Behavioural, Emotional and Social Characteristics
OCD is an anxiety disorder where sufferers experience persistent and intrusive thoughts occurring as obsessions, compulsions or a combination of the two. Generally speaking, obsessions are things that people think about and compulsions are what people do as a result of the obsessions. Obsessions comprise forbidden or inappropriate ideas and visual images that aren’t based in reality (e.g. being convinced that germs lurk everywhere which lead to feelings of extreme anxiety whilst compulsions comprise intense, uncontrollable urges to repetitively perform tasks and behaviours (e.g. washing your hands to get rid of the germs). Symptoms of OCD can overlap with other conditions such as; Tourette’s syndrome and Autism.
Behavioural Symptoms/Characteristics of OCD:
|Hinder everyday functioning||Having obsessive ideas of a forbidden or inappropriate type creates such anxiety that the ability to perform everyday tasks is severely hindered – for example, being able to work effectively (e.g. may need to carry out a number of checks before leaving the house that will make an individual late for work).|
|Social Impairment||Anxiety levels generated are so high as to limit the ability to conduct meaningful, interpersonal relationships (e.g. may not be able to enter into a public place due to the fear of contamination which will have a direct effect on social interaction).|
|Repetitive behaviour||Sufferers feel compelled to repeat behaviours as responses to their obsessive thoughts, ideas and images.|
Emotional Symptoms/Characteristics of OCD:
|Extreme Anxiety||Persistent and inappropriate or forbidden ideas create excessively high levels of anxiety (e.g. if I become contaminated with germs I will become seriously ill).|
|Distress||The recognition that compulsive behaviours cannot be consciously controlled can lead to distress.|
Cognitive Symptoms/Characteristics of OCD:
|Recurrent and persistent thoughts||Sufferers experience constantly repeated obsessive thoughts and ideas of an intrusive nature.|
|Recognised as self-generated||Most sufferers understand their obsessional thoughts; impulses and images are self-invented and most inserted externally (e.g. through the media, TV etc…)|
|Realisation of inappropriate||Most sufferers understand their obsessive thoughts are inappropriate but cannot consciously control them.|
|Attentional bias||Perception tends to be focused on anxiety-generating stimuli.|
|Urges involve completing acts that they feel will reduce anxiety caused by obsessive thoughts (e.g. cleaning and removing contamination)
There are many explanations (both psychological and biological) of OCD. The requirements of the AQA A level specification is that you learn about the biological approach to explaining OCD.