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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

  1. Jonathan S. Abramowitz,
  2. Brittain L. Mahaffey,
  3. Michael G. Wheaton

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0617

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Abramowitz, J. S., Mahaffey, B. L. and Wheaton, M. G. 2010. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–3.

Author Information

  1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that involves two primary symptoms: obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are thoughts, ideas, images, impulses, or doubts that are experienced as senseless, unwanted, and distressing. Although people with OCD recognize the thoughts as irrational, these thoughts often evoke anxiety about dreaded consequences. Common themes of obsessions include contamination; responsibility for causing terrible harm (e.g., by making mistakes); violent, sexual, or blasphemous thoughts; or thoughts about things not being just right. Beyond these common themes, some individuals may exhibit unusual obsessions, such as a fear of having an extramarital affair with a stranger by mistake.


  • obsessions;
  • compulsions;
  • anxiety disorder;
  • cognitive-behavioral therapy;
  • serotonin