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  • 2017RathboneDClinPsy

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The role of emotions in obsessive-compulsive experiences

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Lucy Rathbone
Publication date2017
Number of pages232
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The present thesis has investigated the role of emotions in obsessive-compulsive experiences. First, a literature review explored whether specific compulsive presentations were underpinned by consistent affective profiles. A systematic search procedure identified 23 studies which were eligible for inclusion. Analysis of the results reported across the studies led to five key conclusions. First, washing profiles were consistently characterised by elevated levels of disgust. Second, checking profiles were consistently characterised by elevated levels of guilt. Third, hoarding profiles appeared to be characterised by fewer undesirable phenomena. Fourth, aside from hoarding, anxiety and depression were found to be consistently present across the profiles of all compulsions. Fifth, individuals experiencing multiple compulsion types were considered to experience profiles characterised by increased affective phenomena of a potentially distressing nature, for example, anxiety and stress. These findings highlighted the importance of considering affective variables when assessing, formulating, and supporting obsessive-compulsive difficulties.
Second, a research project was designed to investigate the influence of self-disgust on obsessive-compulsive experiences, as this emotion had been rarely considered alongside such presentations. An online questionnaire was completed by 149 eligible participants with clinically significant obsessive-compulsive difficulties. The results of a multiple regression analysis revealed that self-disgust was a significant independent predictor of hoarding behaviours; no other compulsive behaviours were predicted by self-disgust. Results were explained in terms of existing theory and empirical evidence. Again, findings were considered with regards to their clinical implications and the importance of using holistic formulations to inform clinical interventions.
Third, a critical appraisal was completed to reflect upon the thesis. This comprised an extended discussion of the research paper. Additionally, consideration was given to the research process, including the challenge of balancing the necessary use of the medical model with person-centred values.