Behavioural explanantion of OCD
It is explained through the process of classical and operant conditioning.
MARER- Developed a two step process;
Firstly a neutral stimulus becomes associated with anxiety through classical conditioning for example shaking hands may become associated with the notion of contamination. Anxiety is associated with these stimuli and is maintained over time by avoidance. Avoiding a feared stimuli is a positive outcome and therefore is negatively reinforced, this is operant conditioning.
Compulsive rituals are learnt because ritualistic behaviour reduces anxiety. The ritualistic behaviour is therefore reinforced.
The superstition hypothesis suggests the compulsion can arise through a chance association between a behaviour and reinforcer for example lucky pants and football.
TRACY ET AL (99) predicted that OCD patients would be more rapidly conditioned using a blink bell test. She divided participants into an OCD like group and a non OCD like group on the basis of a questionnaire. She found on some cases the OCD group were conditioned more rapidly.
RACHMAN AND HODGSON (80) OCD patients were asked to carry out a prohibited activity which would cause anxiety, then patients were allowed so carry out the compulsive act. Reduction is anxiety resulted, this supports the role of reinforcement (carry out act and feel less anxious).
Therapies based on behavioural model are effective- good point.
However, it fails to take genetics into account and is reductionist. It only accounts for the nature side of the nature nuture debate. There is also evidence for gennder differences which arent accounted for. LOCHNER AND STEIN suggest in males early brain injury may be associated with OCD and tourettes syndrome. In females OCD and trichotilla mania often appear after child birth. This suggests there may be different causes of OCD between genders which is difficult for the behavioural explanation to explain.