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The Psychophysiology of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 11:23 authored by Haines, J, Josephs, SM, Williams, CL, Wells, JH
The aim of the study was to compare the psychophysiological pattern associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in clinical patients (n = 13) and checking behaviours in a nonclinical population (n = 13) to evaluate the validity of the anxiety reduction hypothesis. A second objective was to examine the psychophysiological pattern associated with prevention of ritualistic behaviour in the OCD group and of checking behaviour in the control group. A guided imagery methodology was utilized in order to examine the progression of the behaviours over time. Various psychophysiological measures were incorporated to account for the response to personalized imagery presented in four distinct stages. The stages included setting the scene, approach, incident, and consequence. Both the psychophysiological and the subjective response to the ritual/checking and response-prevention/no- checking scripts were higher than to the neutral script for both groups. A trend towards significantly higher heart rate response to the response- prevention/no-checking than to the ritual/checking script was also observed. Higher levels of depersonalization and anxiety in the OCD group were observed following prevention of the ritual. The patterns of response indicated obsessive-compulsive behaviour may act to prevent the level of anxiety experienced by an individual from escalating, rather than to reduce it from an already elevated level.


Publication title

Behaviour Change










School of Psychological Sciences


Australian Academic Press

Place of publication

Bowen Hills, Qld

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Other health not elsewhere classified

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