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The origins of mental contamination

Zysk, E., Shafran, R. and Williams, T. ORCID: (2018) The origins of mental contamination. Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders, 17. pp. 3-8. ISSN 2211-3649

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.jocrd.2017.08.007


Background The origins of contamination fears are unknown although this might enhance interventions. Method Thirty people with OCD and contamination fears were interviewed about experiences involving direct, vicarious and informational learning routes. Results 29 reported contact contamination was, 17 mental contamination and 6 morphing fears. Mental contamination fears start around a mean of 15.5 years (SD=7.8). Contact contamination preceded mental contamination in 9 cases, four described simultaneous onset, and two participants reported mental contamination first. Thirteen participants with mental contamination (76.5%) recalled a direct learning experience, often immoral acts, prior to symptom development. Three participants with mental contamination fears reported receiving threatening information. Of the 6, Three participants with morphing fears described a direct learning experience, the same proportion reported an occasion when they received threatening information, and one provided an example of a vicarious learning event. Conclusion Contact contamination tends to precede mental contamination and is associated with specific incidents. Mental contamination precedent events often involved immoral acts in which the person was the victim or perpetrator. This study is limited by a small sample size and retrospective method but provides an initial understanding of the origins of mental contamination.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education > Improving Equity and Inclusion through Education
Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Psychopathology and Affective Neuroscience
ID Code:68949
Uncontrolled Keywords:Mental Contamination; Morphing Fears; Learning; Development;


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