PERSONALITY AND INDIVIDUAL
DIFFERENCES IN OCD
Alison M. Macdonald
Current cognitive behavioural theories regard intrusive thoughts, impulses, images and doubts as ‘an integral part of normal everyday experiences’ (Salkovskis et al., 1998b). Evidence provided by a number of studies (Rachman & de Silva, 1978; Salkovskis & Harrison, 1984) indicates that some 98% of people experience a range of intrusive obsessional thoughts. It is less common to experience distress associated with these occurrences. When this does happen, and when efforts are made to neutralise the discomfort that arises, rituals, compulsions and obsessive patterns of thinking may develop and reach a level of interference with normal psychological functioning such that the person may be said to have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) (see further, Chapters 1 and 4).
So why do some people develop OCD and not others? Why are obsessional thoughts, images and impulses so problematic for some people and yet not for others? Is there an inherited or genetic difference leading to vulnerability to OCD or does it result from some kind of environmental damage or disease process that affects the brain or other physiological functioning? On the other hand, is there some early developmental pattern of learning, perhaps common to members of a family, or some specific critical incident that leads to vulnerability or to the onset of OCD? Individual differences research has attempted to address some of these questions through a variety of methods. In the present chapter some of the findings will be reviewed and discussed.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Theory, Research and Treatment.
Edited by Ross G. Menzies and Padmal de Silva. © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.