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The Dynamics of Obsessive-Compulsive disorder: A Heuristic Framework 

The Dynamics of Obsessive-Compulsive disorder: A Heuristic Framework
The Dynamics of Obsessive-Compulsive disorder: A Heuristic Framework

Christopher Pittenger

, Patricia Gruner

, Thomas A. Adams

, and Benjamin Kelmendi

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date: 09 July 2020

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is defined by the presence of obsessions and/or compulsions. In general, obsessions trigger anxiety or discomfort, whereas compulsions relieve it. Unfortunately, this transient relief can reinforce obsessions, compulsions, and the association between them. This feedback reinforcement has been described as the “OCD cycle.” Many of the specific issues explored throughout this text can be conceptualized in relation to this cycle. The heterogeneity of OCD symptomatology means there are many variations on this scheme. Despite these variations, the idea of a feedback cycle between obsessions and compulsions is broadly applicable and heuristically useful. Most treatments can be thought of as efforts to interrupt this cycle of reinforcement. This chapter explores the complexities of this feedback, and how it may be initiated and maintained. It is probable that different individuals with OCD can enter the cycle of maladaptive reinforcement via different routes.

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