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Psychological Explanations Of An Anxiety Disorder (OCD)

Freud’s Psychoanalytic
 Obsessive Thoughts & Compulsive

OCD occurs when unacceptable wishes &

urges (coming from the id) are only
partly repressed; therefore provoking

People with OCD use ego defence

mechanisms to decrease the anxiety
associated with the unacceptable
Freud’s Psychoanalytic
3 Main Defence Mechanisms (common to

Isolation – detaching themselves from

these unacceptable wishes/urges. When
id is dominant, urges break in as
obsessional thoughts
Undoing – Undoing produces
compulsive acts. (Comer, 2003 – washing
hands = undoing urges)
Reaction Formation – adopting
behaviours/character persona exactly
Freud’s Psychoanalytic
 Regression (leading to the temporary reversion
of the ego to an earlier stage of development)

OCD patients can avoid the related

anxiety of genital impulses (arousal) by
partly regressing to an earlier phase.

Regression unconsciously restores the

childhood illusion that thoughts can
cause external events.
“magical thinking”

 Freud’s Psychoanalytic Explanation

Apter et al. (1997) – suicidal inpatients
scored higher on regression and other
ego defences.

Adam et al. (2000) – men who were

aroused by male homosexual sex were
likely to claim to be homophobic than
men not aroused.

Salzman (1980) – Psychoanalysis may

have a negative effect on recovery from
Adler’s Explanation

 Adler (1931)

OCD develops because an individual’s

feelings of lack of skill or weakness.

Adler believed such as excessive cleaning

allow the person to develop mastery
(skilfulness) in at least some areas of
These attempts to overcome their
weaknesses gradually become
obsessive and may develop into OCD.

 Adler’s Explanation
Rogers (1959) – low self-esteem leads to
a lack of self-acceptance = blocking
healthy growth.
Unconditional positive view to restore
self-esteem = improved mental health.

Alderian therapy is similar to

conditioning. It does not focus primarily
on controlling OC symptoms but on
helping to gain self-confidence. (Stein,