Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a prevalent chronic and long-term disorder whereby a person experiences uncontrollable; reoccurring thoughts commonly referred to as obsessions or behaviors (compulsions) whereby the individuals feel the urge of repeating the behavior over and over. This type of anxiety disorder has been prevalent and has been reported to increase with time continuously. High rates of cases of the obsessive-compulsive disorder have attracted the attention of many biologists and clinicians to research this disorder to understand why the rates of obsessive-compulsive disorders have increased and also to determine ways of mitigating it effectively. Essentially, OCD is a common disorder affecting both children and adults globally. It is reported that those that are mostly diagnosed are those around the age of 19, and most of them are boys than girls 1. Even though science has come a long way in trying to understand obsessive-compulsive disorder, researchers are still uncertain about the factors that cause this condition. Many theories have been established, aiming to explain the causes of OCD, even though genetic as well as biological causes have been widely accepted. Clinicians and researchers still are pursuing research and experiments on OCD aiming to address this condition by determining effective preventive and curing measures. This paper focuses on an experiment on a biological explanation of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. It will discuss the experiment’s hypothesis, results, as well as a conclusion drawn from the experiment. It will also conclude with a thoughtful reflection on the reason behind choosing the experiment on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
The occurrence of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a relatively common disorder that is traceable historically, across cultures as well as across a vast social range and does not seem to be restricting itself to any particular group of people. Statistics show several examples of OCD symptoms throughout the ages. The case of OCD dates back to the 14th century. The name OCD was introduced in the 20th century as it was initially referred to as scrupulosity2. Most of OCD’s records are in religious literature more than medical literature. From the 14th to 18th century, obsessional fears concerning religion were common. In the 17th century, compulsions and obsessions were referred to as melancholy symptoms. Research suggests that this disorder is mostly linked to genetics or family meaning that family members normally have a similar disorder, and this happens more regularly than random2. But, research has not determined the exact nature of this linkage.
With the help of neuroimaging technologies whereby pictures of the brain, as well as its functioning, are taken, the researchers have been capable of demonstrating that some areas within the brain function in a different way for people having OCD than those who do not have OCD. Several researchers have reported that OCD symptoms might be involving communication errors in various parts of the brain which include the thalamus, striatum, orbitofrontal cortex, and anterior cingulate cortex3. It is proven that the chemicals that send messages in the brain are also part of the disorder. Even though it has been set that OCD is based on neurobiology, research has not yet been able to pinpoint any precise cause of OCD. It is perceived that OCD results from a mixture of cognitive, neurobiological, behavioral, genetic as well as environmental factors triggering the disorder in a particular person at a specific time.
The results of a study undertaken by the National Institute of Health indicated that OCD, as well as some related psychiatric disorders, might be related to human serotonin transporter gene mutation. Individuals with severe OCD symptoms are likely to experience a second variation within a similar gene. Some research suggests a possible genetic constituent too. Approximately 25% of people suffering from OCD have a close family member suffering from the disorder too4. Additionally, it has also been indicated that in the case of twins, one of them is likely to get OCD to suppose the twins are identical instead of fraternal. Generally, studies have estimated that twins have OCD, and genetics contributes about 45 to 65 percent of the risk of getting the OCD disorder.
Some other aspects might play a significant role in the OCD onset; these include elements such as environmental, behavioral, as well as cognitive factors. Essentially, learning theorists have suggested that behavioral conditioning might be contributing to the development as well as the maintenance of compulsions and also obsessions. Precisely, researchers believe that compulsions are learned responses helping an individual minimize or halt anxiety or distress attributed to urges or obsessions4. A person experiencing an intrusive obsession with germs, for instance, might get engaged in washing hands so as to minimize the anxiety caused by the obsession. Since this washing ritual partially minimizes anxiety, the probability of the person engaging in washing hands whenever a contamination fear happens in the future is alleviated. Therefore, compulsive behavior remains persistent and tends to be excessive.
Several cognitive theorists tend to believe that people having OCD possess dysfunctional beliefs, and it simply is their misinterpretation of thoughts that are intrusive that results in the creation of obsessions and also compulsions. With regards to the OCD cognitive model, every person experiences intrusive thoughts5. Individuals having OCD tend to misinterpret these thoughts to be so important, exposing one’s character or even possessing disastrous consequences. Obsessions develop due to the repeated misinterpretation of intrusive thoughts. Since obsessions are very distressing, an individual tends to engage in compulsive behavior trying to resist, refute or neutralize them.
The prevalence of people with OCD has been significantly increasing. There are clear connections that people with OCD tend to misinterpret intrusive thoughts leading to disastrous consequences. It has been proven that obsession developed because of repeated misinterpretation of intrusive thoughts2. However, it has not been determined how individuals having OCD overcome distressing obsessions through developing compulsive behavior to resist or neutralize the distress. The study yet projected that the clinical explanation concerning OCD would minimize the individual probability to develop OCD but instead increase analytical pessimism.
Negative effects of OCD patients
Weighted mean effect sizes and tests of homogeneity by neuropsychological subdomain
A study was conducted on the United States population. The study focused on individuals of all ages gauging for signs of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. The study population was confined into two groups randomly. The first group was the study group, whereby individuals with OCD were subjected to distress to examine how they will cope with minimizing it. The other groups were the control group for individuals without OCD subjected to the same condition6. The level of misinterpretation of intrusive thoughts was assessed, and behavioral changes and addressing obsessions were also evaluated.
Conclusion and thoughtful reflection
To sum up, I found this topic of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder to be of interest because it is a common and prevalent disorder that still has some gaps that need clinical or scientific explanations to be able to address it adequately. Despite several types of research conducted on this disorder, there are still some uncertainties that need to be addressed. Mental health issues have significantly increased worldwide and need to be addressed. To have a healthy population, adequate research giving a clear scientific explanation of OCD is necessary. Therefore, this thesis provides an opportunity to address the uncertainties regarding OCD, give a clear explanation of the causes, and also find ways to treat it.