Document Detail

Sympathetic magic in contamination-related OCD.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  15210379     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
We examined whether patients with contamination-related obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are characterized by sympathetic magic beliefs (i.e., an irrational understanding of how contagion is transmitted). We asked OCD patients (OCs), non-anxious control participants (NACs), and anxious control participants (ACs) to identify a "contaminated" object and rate its degree of contamination on a 0-100 scale. Next, we touched a clean pencil to the object, and participants rated the degree to which the pencil was contaminated. A second pencil was touched to the first pencil and was then rated. This process was continued for 12 pencils (12 degrees of removal from the original object). The same process was repeated using threat-non-relevant stimuli. Results indicated that for threat-relevant stimuli, OCs seemed to perceive a "chain of contagion" in which successive degrees of removal from the original object were not rated as less contaminated. In contrast, NACs and ACs quickly identified the pencils as not contaminated, suggesting that they recognize the contamination as degrading across objects. This difference was not seen using threat-nonrelevant stimuli. We also found that ratings of looming vulnerability (a belief that the contamination is spreading, approaching, or escalating in threat value) mediated the relationship between diagnostic group and the chain of contagion. We suggest that this process may be consistent with the sympathetic magic and disease-avoidance models of disgust, and that disgust may be a fruitful area for exploration in the study of OCD.
David F Tolin; Patrick Worhunsky; Nicholas Maltby
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Journal of behavior therapy and experimental psychiatry     Volume:  35     ISSN:  0005-7916     ISO Abbreviation:  J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry     Publication Date:  2004 Jun 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2004-06-22     Completed Date:  2004-10-21     Revised Date:  2004-11-17    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0245075     Medline TA:  J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  193-205     Citation Subset:  IM    
The Institute of Living, Anxiety Disorders Center, 200 Retreat Avenue, Hartford, CT 06106, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
Middle Aged
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / diagnosis,  psychology*

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