College of Psychology: Faculty Articles

Title

Cognitive and Clinical Characteristics of Sexual and Religious Obsessions

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Fall 2011

Keywords

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder, Obsessive Beliefs, Autogenous Obsessions, Religious Obsessions, Sexual Obsessions

Publication Title

Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy

ISSN

0889-8391

Volume

25

Issue/No.

3

Abstract

Sexual and religious obsessions are often grouped together as unacceptable thoughts, symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) hypothesized to be maintained by maladaptive beliefs about the importance and control of thoughts. Although there is empirical justification for this typology, there are several reasons to suspect that sexual and religious obsessions may differ with respect to associated obsessional beliefs and personality traits. In this study, we examined the associations between sexual and religious obsessions (separately) and (a) putatively obsessional cognitive styles, especially beliefs about the importance and control of thoughts, and responsibility; (b) obsessive-compulsive personality traits; and (c) schizotypal personality traits. Whereas sexual obsessions were predicted only by increased beliefs about the importance and control of thoughts, and contamination obsessions were predicted only by inflated responsibility appraisals and threat estimation, religious obsessions were independently predicted by both of these constructs. In addition, only religious obsessions were related to self-reported obsessive-compulsive personality traits. Researchers and clinicians should be cognizant of potentially important distinctions between sexual and religious obsessions, and the possibility that scrupulous OCD shares processes with both autogenous and reactive presentations.

DOI

10.1891/0889-8391.25.3.167

Peer Reviewed

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