The Ocd Spectrum

In the past 10 years, research has begun to focus on a group of illnesses that have been labeled obsessive-compulsive spectrum (OC spectrum) disorders. People affected by these disorders have in common the symptoms of obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors and share a similar family history of mental illness and response to treatment. The current literature generally includes OCD, body dysmorphic disorder, hypochon-driasis, and Tourette syndrome in the OC spectrum (Yaryura-Tobias and Neziroglu, 1997a, 1997b). Trichotillomania, eating disorders, and self-mutilation also have overlapping symptoms and some argue that they should be included in this group. Some authors also have included pathologic gambling and sexual impulse control problems within the spectrum (Hollander et al., 1996). All these conditions share a similar core in that a person performs an action or has repetitive thoughts that reduce their anxiety. This performance of a ritualistic behavior to alleviate anxiety is what maintains their disorder. Further research is needed to determine whether or not these phenomeno-logic similarities define a true "spectrum" of disorders or merely overlapping clinical features of several distinct disease entities.

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