Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Theory, Research, and Treatment

By Ross G. Menzies; Padmal De Silva | Go to book overview

Chapter 2
THE PHENOMENOLOGY
OF OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE
DISORDER

INTRODUCTION

Padmal de Silva

This chapter deals with the phenomenology of obsessive-compulsive disorder and its impact on sufferers and others. As detailed in Chapter 1, the disorder has been described in the literature for over a century. Descriptions have been based on clinical observations and, in more recent times, experimental investigations. The impact of the disorder has also been looked at, although the literature on this is more limited.


THE PHENOMENA

The phenomena that constitute obsessive-compulsive disorder have been detailed by various authorities, including classical writers such as Janet (1903), Jaspers (1913) and Lewis (1936), as well as more recent investigators, such as Emmelkamp (1982) and Rachman & Hodgson (1980). The current position with regard to obsessive-compulsive phenomenology is reflected in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statisti cal Manual (DSM-IV; APA 1994). The widely agreed criteria for a diagnosis (see Chapter 1 for full description) require that the person must have either obsessions or compulsions or both. Thus, the essential features of the disorder are these two phenomena. Obsessions are recurrent, persistent ideas, thoughts, images or impulses that intrude into consciousness and are experienced as senseless or repugnant. They form against one's will and the person usually attempts to resist them or get rid them. The person recognizes that they are his/her own thoughts. They also cause marked anxiety or discomfort. Compulsions are repetitive, purposeful forms of behaviour

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Theory, Research and Treatment.

Edited by Ross G. Menzies and Padmal de Silva. © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

-21-

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