The characteristic repetitive behaviours and intrusive thoughts characteristic of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) make it a prime candidate for neuropsychological modelling. Such models aim to account for how the surface features of the disorder relate to underlying information processing deficits. Similarly, the emergence of obsessions and compulsions in the context of head injury (Ravi et al., 1996), localised lesions to the basal ganglia (Chacko et al., 2000) and autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders (Giedd et al., 2000) begs the question of the potential role of an underlying neurological substrate in the generation and persistence of OCD. Recurring obsessions and compulsions often have the quality of a failure to inhibit an everyday intrusive thought or repetitive behaviour pattern that most of us discard without difficulty, and these types of problems have information processing parallels (e.g. in perseveration and inhibition). Modelling them in neuropsychological terms may help our understanding and treatment of this beguiling disorder.
Building neuropsychological models of OCD provides an opportunity to take a developmental perspective of the disorder, since there is a remarkable degree of continuity between childhood and adult forms of OCD. Studies have suggested that as many as 80% of adult cases have a childhood
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Theory, Research and Treatment.
Edited by Ross G. Menzies and Padmal de Silva. © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.