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Psychological Theories for OCD

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Psychology
Wordcount: 3055 words Published: 9th Aug 2018

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  • Sana Akram


Psychological Perspective

Key characteristics of the perspective used to explain the cause of obsessive compulsive disorder

Analysis of the Perspective to effectively explain the cause of obsessive compulsive disorder

1. Psychodynamic perspective

Freud’s theory: The inner self (the consciousness, level-headed personality) of patients with OCD is disturbed by their obsessions and impulses, and this leads them to utilize conscience guard components including fixing, and response development. Freud contended that OCD is connected to the anal-centric phase of an individual’s development, which happens at around 2 years old, on the grounds that amid this stage youngsters are toilet prepared.

Defence psychological responses, isolation:

Any connection between potty training and OCD is only that, an affiliation, so we can’t build up causation and we can’t say that latrine preparing causes OCD. Rather there could be different elements, for example personality trait, that influence both potty training and OCD. A noteworthy clash inside of the kid between needing to soil his or her garments and needing to hold dung can happen if parents are excessively cruel and make the kid feel grimy and embarrassed. The infant might intentionally soil his or her clothes as a demonstration of defiance. This debate over cleanliness can prompt OCD. Freud (1949, see A2 Level Psychology page 530)

2. Biological perspective

Abnormal brain functioning:

There is some kind of irregularity in the neurotransmitter serotonin, among other understandable mental or instinctive anomalies; then again, it is conceivable that this movement is the cerebrum’s reaction to OCD, and not its cause. Serotonin is thought to have a part in controlling uneasiness; This neurotransmitter goes starting with one nerve cell then onto the next through neural connections. With a specific end goal to send compound messages, serotonin must tie to the receptor locales situated on the nerve cell. It is theorized that OCD sufferers may have blocked or harmed receptor locales that keep serotonin from working to its maximum capacity.

Abnormalities in brain areas:

Various studies have shown irregular cerebrum working in people with OCD (Saxena, Brody, Schawtrz & Lewis, 1998). These studies have recognized over activity in the limbic framework. The basal ganglia set the body’s gauge excitement and smother regulation of engine development. Over activity around there is related with the physical impressions of tension, shirking propensities and tics.

3. Behavioural Perspective

Classic conditioning, operant conditioning:

As per the behavioural clarification, fear in people with fixations and impulses is activated by apprehension connected with boosts (e.g. unwashed hands, obsessional contemplations) that are unrealistic to bring about genuine mischief. The habitual ceremonies (e.g. hand washing) diminish trepidation thus this conduct is strengthened or remunerated by apprehension diminishment.

Face and investigative legitimacy: The hypothesis that the enthusiastic ceremonies decrease tension divines well (face legitimacy) and is reinforced by confirmation (exploratory legitimacy).

Nature versus sustain: Behavioural clarifications represent support, as per these, conduct is exclusively a result of adapting as we are conceived as a clear slate. They disregard nature, which is a critical shortcoming as the developmental clarification recommends certain boosts are more inclined to be adapted than others.

4. Cognitive Perspective

Impaired information process, irrational fear:

As indicated by the intellectual viewpoint, OCD patients have an expanded feeling of moral obligation thus get a handle on they must convey their urgent ceremonies to maintain a strategic distance from unfriendly results, and this is their key psychological mistake. Salkovskis (1996, see A2 Level Psychology page 532) clarifies the impulses are in light of intellectual intervals.

The need to be free of distress and anxiety by performing same task again and again

Face and exploratory acceptability: Patients with OCD do have the flawed discernments regularly encompassing their feeling of moral obligation so this clarification bodes well (face legitimacy). It is likewise upheld by exact proof and in this manner has exploratory legitimacy. The completing of the enthusiastic events imply that OCD patients never get the chance to test out their flawed thinking and acknowledge there is not a critical outcome in the event that they commit an error.


Psychological Perspective

Brief description of study(I.es) offered to support the perspective’s explanation for Obsessive

Compulsive Disorder

Evaluation of the methods of data gathering used by each perspective

1. Behavioural Perspective

Hypothesis provided by Mowrer which was backed by Rachman and Hodgson

Mowrer (1947, see A2 Level Psychology page 531) added to a two-procedure hypothesis: the first process includes traditional moulding whereby an unbiased traumas gets to be connected with devastating cogitations or encounters and this prompts the improvement of nervousness, e.g. partner shaking hands with contamination. The other process includes operant moulding whereby the individual finds that the uneasiness is lessened by certain behaviour, thus this turns into the compulsion.

Rachman and Hodgson 1980 A2 Level Psychology page 531) give backing to Mowrer’s hypothesis. They found that when patients with OCD were presented to circumstances setting off their fixations this did result in an abnormal state of anxiety and nervousness and when they performed their enthusiastic customs, this diminished their tension.

Naturalistic research approach:

The research methodology taken place is naturalistic, the scientists compare the subject’s behaviour pattern with the general population, and the tools used were keen observation then were given a form of hypothesis. (Shaughnessy, J. J., & Zechmeister, E. B. (1985).Research methods in psychology. Alfred)

2. Cognitive Perspective

Researches done by Buttolph and Holland:

Buttolph and Holland (1990) found that 69% of female patients with obsessive compulsiveness had the onset or intensifying of side effects amid pregnancy or labour, which is steady with the expanded feeling of identity hypothesis on the grounds that unmistakably the conception of a kid is a huge obligation regarding the prosperity of their youngster.

Neziroglu et al (1992, see A2 Level Psychology page 532) found that 39% of female patients with over the top impulsive issue with youngsters reported an onset of the issue amid pregnancy.

Tallis (1995 A2 Level Psychology page 532) discusses the feeling of moral obligation clarification in light of the fact that, if this was the main variable included in obsessive compulsive issue, numerous more individuals would experience the ill effects of it.

Abramowitz’s audit 2006 A2 Level Psychology page 532) of the flawed comprehensions demonstrated by obsessive compulsions additionally underpins the misrepresented feeling of moral obligation clarification on the grounds that such intellectual lapses incorporate the conviction that musings can help to bring about occasions called thought–action combination.

Quantitative research methodology along with case studies/ cases history:

The research methodologies used in the theories and hypothesis were case studies, mostly among female patients going through pregnancy, the hypothesis were made on the grounds that for new mothers children are a huge responsibility which can be a trigger for OCD in those patients. These case studies were done among several pregnant females and the percentage was taken out.

The other research method applied was Experimental research method in which one is a dependent and other is an independent variable.


In this case study, we need to assess the psychological perspectives and evaluate the influence of such perspectives on the subject. The subject who is now recovered, seems to have a terrible experience from this disorder, the psychological perspectives may be behavioural perspective, cognitive, psychodynamic or even biological.

In this essay, we will discuss the contributing factors from a psychological point of view. There are certain theories that evaluate the main causes of OCD, but the fact that the reasons vary from person to person make it difficult to be diagnosed and treated. From the biological perspective, it is easier for the disorder to be subsided, but that is not a successful solution in all cases.


OCD is likely a heterogeneous disorder, and different modalities of treatment have been discovered to be successful in enhancing OCD indications to differing degree. These incorporate pharmacotherapy, subjective conduct treatment, electro-convulsive treatment, and psychosurgery. By and large psychotherapy alone is not powerful, but rather mental backing for the OCD patient and his family is critical. (American Psychiatric Association 2000).

Individual components of OCD may have imperative ramifications for treatment arranging as far as consistence, reaction to treatment and elements that fuel or diminish indications (AACAP, 1998). Mellow fixations or impulses that are not the wellspring of significant trouble or weakness may warrant observing over the long haul without the start of particular treatment (AACAP). In the event that such fixations or impulses are identified with outer or formative stressors, psychotherapy or other psychosocial mediations focused to these stressors may be valuable.

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In this case, the patient has mentioned about the Cognitive treatment, and that she felt better with it means it was progressive; however, the cognitive treatment is a kind of talking treatment, in which the thoughts, behaviour, thinking can affect the power of dealing with certain problems. Since, the patient showed improvement with CBT that makes it a reason of one of the causing factors of the patient’s OCD. The patient here complains about having horrendous thoughts of killing her children that had led her to the compulsiveness of sealing the bag which contained cords that can be used to strangle her own children, so the cognition here is affected, leading to behavioural problems, the CBT is different than the conventional talking session with the psychiatrist because the professionals can utilize a wide range of tools to improve the condition of the patient, these tools may include motivating and helping the patient to identify the wrong and right practices and suppression of the wrong thoughts, moreover, the psychiatrist may help the patient to learn about different relaxation techniques that can help her to relax when such thoughts arise.

Diane further adds that she doesn’t have the traditional OCD symptom i.e. she was not a cleanliness freak, but her OCD did take an evil approach when her cognition, her thoughts pattern started to derail and she feared herself that she might be dangerous for her children, we can conclude that the thoughts she experienced might be a result of her early pregnancy when she was anxious that she is going to be a parent which is going to be a highly responsible job, this might have led her to the derailment of rational thoughts.

Moreover, Diane also gives detail of her early experience that she used to fear the fact that if she didn’t follow her daily ritual something bad might happen to her parents, this tells about her behavioural pattern, and the theories of punishment and rewards apply here.

The biological perspective also plays an important role here; Diane explains that she was under anti-depressants which had made her calm and easy. So the theory of biological perspective applies here, we can conclude that she must be going through the misbalance of chemical neurotransmitters. Kobak, K., Taylor, L., Bystritsky, A., Kohlenberg, C., Greist, J., Tucker, P., et al. (2005) Her details reflect that she was prescribed sedative hypnotics to calm her down and help her sleep, which is also a muscle relaxant. Other than sedatives, SSRIs (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) (Abramowitz, 1997) are the most widely used anti-depressants must have been given to her for her complete therapy. Furthermore, for the treatment of her delusive thoughts and psychosis, she must have been kept under haloperidol, which is a highly effective drug. Buttolph and Holland (1990)

The theories suggest that the OCD and other mental disorders are inherited; here Diane explains that her eldest child is also under the same practice as his/her mother, this explains the biological and genetic perspective of OCD. (Barrett, P. Shortt, A. & Healy 2002)

The eldest child of the subject who is showing few symptoms of OCD, this can be related to another psychodynamic perspective, the child may have been attached to the mother, as a result of which the child must have received the same habits as her. Sigmund Freud psychoanalysis suggests that the first stage of OCD is the outcome of behaviour of the parents that brings the sense of guilt and punishment if the particular task is not done.

There are various causes of OCD and various therapies that should be kept in mind when dealing with such patient, till date, no accurate therapy has come to existence that would eradicate this disorder. The treatment of OCD varies from person to person; the psychological perspectives play a vital role in diagnosis and give a clue about how it should be treated.


In spite of the fact that the examination to date has tended to numerous basic issues in the treatment of OCD, critical points still require further study. Case in point, a treatment program that incorporates preparing relatives about OCD, its treatment, and how to adequately help with a friend or family member’s treatment would be valuable, given the high predominance of social issues in families of OCD patients. Inspiration to start treatment, particularly given the uneasiness bringing out nature of ERP, is regularly an issue. In these way availability programs, in which patients read case histories or examine treatment with previous patients, may diminish refusal rates and build treatment consistence. From the clinician’s viewpoint, giving effective ERP can be a test, and not very many focuses offer the preparation expected to wind up capable in these strategies. Hence, improvement of projects for brain science and psychiatry students may likewise enhance access to this powerful treatment.


Abramowitz, J. S. (1997). Effectiveness of psychological and pharmacological treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder: a quantitative review of the controlled treatment literature. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 65, 44–52.

Abramowitz, J. S., Moore, K. M., Carmine, C., Wiegartz, P., & Purdon, C. (2001). Obsessive compulsive disorder in males following childbirth. Psychosomatics, 42, 429–431.

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 35 (3), 333-342.

American Psychiatric Association (APA). (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th

Barrett, P., Shortt, A., & Healy, L. (2002). Do parent and child behaviors differentiate families whose children have obsessive-compulsive disorder from other clinic and non-clinic families? Journal of Child

Broocks, A., Briggs, N. C., Piggott, T. A., Hill, J. L., Canter, S. K., Tolliver, T. J., … & Murphy, D. L. (1997). Behavioural, physiological and neuroendocrine responses in healthy volunteers to m-chlorophenylpiperazine (m-CPP) with and without ondansetron pre-treatment. Psychopharmacology,130(2), 91-103.

Kobak, K., Taylor, L., Bystritsky, A., Kohlberg, C., Greist, J., Tucker, P., et al. (2005)

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Miller, D., & Slater, D. (2000). The internet: An ethnographic approach. New York:Berg.

Neziroglu, F., McKay, D., & Yaryura-Tobias, J. A. (2000). Overlapping and distinctive features of hypochondriasis and obsessive–compulsive disorder. Journal of anxiety disorders,14(6), 603-614.

Rode, S., Salkovskis, P. M., & Jack, T. (2001). An experimental study of attention, labelling and memory in people suffering from chronic pain. Pain, 94(2), 193-203.

Saxena, S., Brody, A. L., Schwartz, J. M., & Baxter, L. R. (1998). Neuroimaging and frontal-subcortical circuitry in obsessive-compulsive disorder. The British Journal of Psychiatry.

Shaughnessy, J. J., & Zechmeister, E. B. (1985). Research methods in psychology. Alfred A. Knopf.


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