The Possible Causes and Treatments of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder


Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of mental illness. People who suffer from OCD can either have obsessive thoughts or repetitive behaviors that they feel they must complete each and everyday. This disorder is not about small habits such as grinding your teeth or licking your lips. It can affect their ability to work, go to school, or to have a normal life. An example of an obsessive behavior is the thought that your family will get hurt if you do not put your clothes on in the same exact order everyday. They feel as though they have no power to stop and must keep going. Many scholars describe this disorder as the invisible disease.

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In this literature review, the topics that will be explored are the possible causes and treatments options. The causes that will be discussed is the genetic and environmental factors and the importance of failures in cognitive and behavioral inhibition. Both of these may contribute to someone developing OCD. The treatments that will be discussed are experiential avoidance cognitive fusion, and systematic changes in cerebral glucose metabolic rate after successful behavioral modification treatment.

Genetic and Environmental Factors

Genetic and environmental factors are relevant to the aetiology of OCD. Observing symptoms of obsessive behaviors is most likely to occur in the home with first-degree relatives. Psychoeducation and the reduction of family members complying to their habits are promising areas for the prevention of OCD in an individual who is at risk of developing obsessive habits. More research is said to be needed for the prevention of OCD. Psychoeducation is a key primary source of prevention for obsessive compulsive disorder. Evaluation is needed for treatments of OCD (Brakoulias et al 2018).

Association splitting versus cognitive remediation in obsessive-compulsive disorder:

According to Lena Jelinek (2018), studies have confirmed the efficiency of association splitting (AS) in obsessive compulsive disorder when applied as a self-help technique. AS aims to alter symptom-provoking automated cognitive networks of obsessive compulsive related stimuli by building new neutral associations. The aim of this study was to investigate the benefits of therapist assisted AS as an add on to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Patients with OCD were randomly assigned to either AS or cognitive remediation (CR) and then both groups were assessed at baseline, 4 weeks, and 6 months later. Patients acceptance of AS was good but not as good as the acceptance with CR. Analyses excluding control patients who had obtained information about AS indicated its superiority. Because superiority of AS was found in post hoc analyses excluding control patients who had obtained information on AS, we suggest that contagion effects deserve consideration (Jelinek et al 2018).

Experiential Avoidance and Cognitive Fusion

According to Reuman (2018), cognitive models of OCD are supported but do not fully explain OCD symptoms. Mid level constructs from acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) may advance understandings of symptoms by adding more explanation to existing models. A current study examined the extent of how mid level ACT constructs account for variability in symptoms. Regression analysis revealed that experiential avoidance and cognitive fusion showed associations with OCD symptoms. These did not add to the prediction of symptoms once general distress and obsessive beliefs were accounted for. An exception is cognitive fusion because it was a predictor of obsessive thoughts and the need to control those thoughts. These findings provide support for the model of OCD as well as the thought that mid level ACT best relates to the obsessive thoughts of OCD. (Reuman et al 2018).

Systematic Changes in Cerebral Glucose Metabolic Rate After Successful Behavior Modification Treatment

These researchers sought to determine in a new patient sample where symptomatic improvement in obsessive compulsive disorder treatment with behavioral modification is paired with significant changes in glucose metabolic rates in the caudate nucleus. This is measured with positron emission tomography. They also examined whether there were pathologic correlation relationships with brain activity in the orbital cortex, caudate nucleus, and thalamus that obtained before behavioral treatment of OCD but decreased significantly with symptom improvement. Behavioral therapy responders had significant decreases in caudate glucose metabolic rates that were greater that seen in poor responders to treatment. This shows that the before the treatment there was more caudate glucose rates than after the treatment. A prefrontal cortico-striato-thalamic brain system is implicated in mediation of symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder. (Schwartz et al 1996).


Obsessive compulsive disorder is referred to as an invisible disease. It affects an individual by complicating their whole life in negative ways. It affects their everyday life to the point where they can not function as a normal person. There are some causes that may be able to be identified early in life such as environmental factors which would be seeing a family member with obsessive thoughts or beliefs. Another predictable cause are genetic factors which would be a direct family member suffering with OCD. After being diagnosed with OCD there are some treatment options. One being experiential avoidance and cognitive fusion. Cognitive fusion was shown to be a predictor of OCD symptoms and the need to control these obsessive thoughts. The second treatment was systematic changes in cerebral glucose metabolic rate after successful behavior modification treatment. This treatment showed the caudate glucose rates significantly decrease after successful behavior treatment of OCD symptoms.

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The Possible Causes and Treatments of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. (2019, Nov 13). Retrieved December 7, 2022 , from

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