Disgust and Obsessions

İğrenme ve Takıntılar

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a chronic and debilitating disorder, which causes significant discomfort and functional deteriorations and which is characterized by the presence of the compulsions that can be named as the behaviors aimed at preventing the obsession.

Usually associated with anxiety disorder, OCD has become a disorder which started to be evaluated with its own symptoms once the phenomena, irrelevant of anxiety, became clear.

Disgust is a universal feeling which is characterized by a sense of abomination or deep disapproval towards an unpleasant or disturbing thing. Disgust is characterized by a distinct facial expression (upper lip pulled up, nose and eyebrows wrinkled) that can serve the protection of the eyes and nose from pollutants.

The increasing emphasis on the adoption of a dimensional approach towards psychopathology is followed by the recognition of the emotional effects beyond anxiety in OCD. The data obtained up to date give rise to thoughts that our understanding of this disorder, as well as the treatment process, could be improved by the inclusion of disgust in the theoretical models of OCD, particularly in the contamination-based OCD (obsession of contamination). Focusing only on the alleviation of anxiety could both inhibit the success of the treatment in OCD, and limit the clinical achievements.

Studies look promising as they indicate a decline in the subjective disgust reactions following the use of the disgust-oriented “reaction prevention through exposure” methods in the treatment process.

Most of the disgust-oriented brain imaging studies are based on contamination; it would be enlightening to determine the neural activation patterns of OCD patients, who report a sense of self-disgust due to their religious/sexual obsessions, by using stimulants that represent the moral disgust.

Although further research is needed to further clarify the role of disgust in OCD, it seems that there are adequate evidences that support the restructuring of OCD through theoretical models to include disgust.

Under the light of the current research and the apparent correlation of the disgust in contamination-based OCD, it seems likely to say that disgust plays a significant part in the onset and continuation of the OCD-specific symptoms.

– Bhikram, T., Abi-Jaoude, E., & Sandor, P. (2017). OCD: obsessive-compulsive … disgust? The role of disgust in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Journal of psychiatry & neuroscience: JPN, 42(5), 300–306.