Abnormal Psychology: OCD Diagnosis and Treatment Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1474 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  Level: College Sophomore  ·  Topic: Psychology

Abnormal Psychology: OCD Diagnosis and Treatment

In this case, the reader is asked to evaluate the case of "Jake," who has an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) which has reemerged after the birth of his child. Jake grew up in a relatively sheltered environment, close to his mother and distant from his father. Always uncomfortable with outside stimuli, Jake pursued a cautious and, in his father's eyes, less than manly life.

Jake had been able to cope with his panic attacks and compulsive concern for cleanliness at various points in his life, including in college and when he met and married his wife, Ally. He was able to tune his environment to cater to his desire for low stimuli: this extended to his wife (who liked quiet, indoor activities), his profession (accounting, which is an individual and rather isolated profession) and his choice of a place to live (not moving away from his home town).

A major change came in Jake's life with the birth of his daughter. This paper will seek to analyze how that and other changes may have reawakened Jake's OCD, and how it might be treated.

Diagnosis

Jake's case matches the DSM-IV criteria for OCD, as well as some of the associated sub-specialties of the disease (Hollander, 1993). The APA's DSM-IV criteria include the following characteristics:

Compulsions are defined as "repetitive behaviors (e.g. hand washing, ordering, checking) or mental acts (e.g., praying, counting, repeating words silently) that the person feels driven to perform in response to an obsession, or according to rules that must be applied rigidly (Dziegelewski, 2002).

Note that this definition was changed in 2000, and is called "TR" because it represents a text revision which was performed after the DSM-IV criteria were introduced in 1997. OCD can exist in a number of forms, from moderate to severe. The symptoms which emerge may affect men and women differently: women can develop eating or self-mutilation disorders more commonly than men. Jake's cleaning- and germ-related phobias can be termed a "mild" or "moderate" form of OCD, which should lend itself to relatively straightforward therapy (as described in the following paragraphs).

Jake's disorder appears to show itself in behaviors, but the case does not present mental acts in detail that might help the diagnostician to determine if Jake engages in obsessive or compulsive mental acts.

In order to completely diagnose Jake's disorder, one must look at two characteristics (Goodman, 2000):

Symptom profile: intrusive obsessive thoughts and repetitive behaviors: it is clear that Jake engaged in obsessive behavior both in his childhood and early adulthood. Usually, OCD appears in later childhood or the teenage years, which corresponds with Jake's move from concern to obsession in the first attack when fishing with his father (Leckman JF, 1997).

Associated features, including family history and demographics: Jake's mother suffered from a similar disorder, although we do not have enough diagnostic information to discern if it emerged as OCD, or simply as a tendency to excessive worry and cleanliness. The case does illustrate that Jack's mother had been a worrier all his life, and this continued into Jack's and his sister's adult years. In fact, there may be a relation to the re-intensification of Jake's OCD after he and Ally had their child, and the increased concerns his mother expressed about him and his sister (Farrington D, 1990). In addition, Jack's father was only a distant influence, as he spent little time with his boy.

Possible Causes

Jake's OCD fits the classical definition of the case, and the probable causes can be suggested, but need to be verified in sessions with Jake. The three probable causes can be broken into neurobiology, etiology, and genetic factors:

Neurobiology: Jake appeared to have an aversion to stimuli from his time as a small child. Although not the topic of this diagnosis, one is left to wonder if there may have been a tendency towards Asperger's Syndrome. One does not have enough information to determine Jake's level of affect, but his need to reduce stimuli, stay inside, and choose a quiet, individual profession with numbers may be an indication of some neurobiological disturbance (Gillberg, 1998).

Jake may have inherited his mother's compulsions, which could stem from hyperstimulation due either to early environmental factors (including in-utero) or genetic factors. Even if, as suggested above, Jake is not a classic Asperger's case, he could share the tendencies of high-functioning autism which accompany OCD in some cases (Winter,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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