AND DIAGNOSIS OF
Ross G. Menzies
This opening chapter will endeavour to provide an historical account of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and will also examine contemporary diagnostic and classificatory issues. The similarity of OCD to a number of other disorders, including the degree of co-morbidity with these, will also be addressed. Finally, a close examination of the epidemiology of the condition will be provided.
The symptoms of OCD have been identified, with some consistency, from as early as the seventeenth century. At this time, obsessions were considered to exist purely within a religious framework and sufferers were considered to be possessed by outside forces, such as the devil (Salzman & Thaler, 1981). Not surprisingly, the most popular treatment method was exorcism, which, by all reports, resulted in some cases of therapeutic success. While little is known about the type of compulsive behaviour that dominated clinical presentations in this period, it is noteworthy that washing/cleaning behaviours have been clearly described from the earliest literature. Perhaps the first fictional portrayal of OCD is Shakespeare's illustration of Lady Macbeth in the sixteenth century. As we all know, this character, in an attempt to rid herself of guilt, repeatedly engaged in hand washing, a behaviour which continues to dominate much of the contemporary literature on the condition.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Theory, Research and Treatment.
Edited by Ross G. Menzies and Padmal de Silva. © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.