Childhood Experiences and Adult Beliefs in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Evaluating a Specific Etiological Model

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Abstract

Cognitive accounts of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) propose that an individual's early experiences contribute to the development of different belief domains, which in turn represent fertile ground for the development of the disorder (e.g., Salkovskis, Shafran, Rachman, & Freeston, 1999). This study examined the proximal relationship between specific, narrowly defined childhood experiences (CEs) and distinct adult OCD-related beliefs (Obsessive Beliefs Questionnaire-87 [OBQ-87]) through the self-reports of 83 participants with OCD and 213 unselected student participants. CEs variables were operationalized via theoretical groupings of items on an early experience questionnaire (QEE) relevant to distinct OBQ belief domains. These proximal relationships were assessed according to predictions from both a specific and a nonspecific vulnerability hypothesis. Correlational analyses were supportive of both but mostly of a nonspecific vulnerability model. Results are discussed regarding the understanding of the possible multideterministic pathways to OCD development.

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