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MCAT

Unit 4: Lesson 1

Foundations of behavior passages

OCD and hoarding disorder

Problem

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by frequent, intrusive, and obsessive thoughts that compel individuals to engage in repetitive behaviors in an attempt to relieve their anxiety. Individuals with OCD may recognize that these thought patterns and behaviors are irrational, but cannot stop them from occurring. Symptoms of OCD can become incredibly time-consuming and disruptive for patients, especially when the disorder occurs comorbidly with another mental illness, like hoarding disorder. Hoarding disorder is defined as excessive accumulation of items and is associated with an overwhelming urge to acquire more possessions. Individuals with hoarding disorder experience significant distress when trying to discard their items (even if the item is of no use or has little value), which can result in clutter and damage to their homes.
To better understand characteristics of individuals diagnosed with both OCD and hoarding disorder, 100 outpatients with comorbid diagnoses are interviewed by a group of clinical psychologists. The patients range in age from 35-67 (mean 55, point, 4), and average age of OCD and hoarding onset is 27, point, 3. The mean amount of time spent per day on ritualistic behavior is 6, point, 8 hours, and 78, percent of the sample is unemployed because their symptoms are so severe. Table 1 outlines the percentage of the sample that endorse specific characteristics related to OCD and hoarding, and includes information about the items collected, as well as thoughts and behaviors.
Table 1:
CharacteristicPercentage
Hoards bizarre items (like rotting food)12, percent
Hoards common items (like newspapers)70, percent
Clutter fills most living space60, percent
Engages in checking rituals (ex. checking items or electronics)70, percent
Engages in contamination rituals (ex. excessively cleaning or hand washing)15, percent
Experiences frequent intrusive thoughts89, percent
Experiences fear of catastrophic consequences95, percent
Experiences fear of discarding items98, percent
Individuals with clinically significant issues with hoarding often experience recurring disturbing thoughts and fear that harm will come to them if they throw things away, even while recognizing that their fear may be irrational. Which of the following terms best describes this phenomenon?
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