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Mental contamination in obsessive–compulsive disorder

Coughtrey, A. E., Shafran, R., Knibbs, D. and Rachman, S. J. (2012) Mental contamination in obsessive–compulsive disorder. Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders, 1 (4). pp. 244-250. ISSN 2211-3649

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.jocrd.2012.07.006


It was recently proposed that feelings of contamination can arise in the absence of physical contact with a contaminant. Currently, there are limited data regarding this construct of ‘mental contamination’ although it is hypothesised to be relevant to obsessive compulsive disorder(OCD) where compulsive washing in response to contamination fear is a common presentation (Rachman,2006). This research examined the presence of mental contamination in OCD. Participants (N=177) with obsessive compulsive symptoms completed questionnaires to assess mental contamination, OCD symptoms and thought-action fusion (TAF). Findings indicated that 46% of participants experienced mental contamination, and severity was associated with severity of OCD symptoms and TAF. Mental contamination in the absence of contact contamination was reported by 10.2% of participants. Similar findings were reported in a sub-sample of participants who had received a formal diagnosis of OCD (N=54). These findings suggest that mental contamination is a distinct construct that overlaps with, but is separate from, contact contamination, and provide preliminary empirical support for the construct.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
ID Code:31317


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