The symptoms that come with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) are by now common knowledge, including involuntary obsessive thought patterns and compulsive ritualistic behavior. After several studies, OCD symptoms have been placed in five categories: hoarding, cleaning, symmetry, checking and forbidden thoughts.
A new study shows that people who lose their grasp on reality are more likely to develop OCD. Not being able to distinguish before reality and imagination is another important characteristic in the progression of OCD.
Researchers at the CIUSSS de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal (Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal) and the University of Montreal have conducted a study regarding the development of OCD. They study set out to prove observations made by the team at the Obsessive-Compulsive and Tic Disorder Studies Centre (CETOCT). The CETOCT team noticed that patients with reality disassociation and a reliance of the imaginary also had symptoms of OCD.
Frederick Aardema, co-director of CETOCT says that there is a general agreement on diagnosing OCD, but not on the actual structure of criteria. “Theories about OCD stipulate that it is not the content of thought that is involved in the development of obsessions but the way these thoughts are interpreted by the person,” explained Aardema.
Seventy-five people were asked to participate in the study. Researchers gave them assessment questionnaires to complete in regards to schizotypal personality, dissociative experiences, strength of obsessive beliefs, and depressive and anxiety symptoms. The team was hoping to discover differences in cognitive patterns and behavior.
The results found that patients with OCD rely completely on their imaginations instead of their sensory perceptions. Reality no longer feels real, especially once they are convinced of their dissociative experiences. That symptom, along with inferential confusion, plays an important role in predicting OCD. The other factors from the questionnaire don’t appear to be significant in regards to the development of OCD, however they can affect its severity. The findings could help researchers understand and develop more specific treatments that would be effective for patients with OCD.
The results of this study were published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.