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Examining the security motivation model of obsessive-compulsive disorder

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  1. Introduction
  2. Specific thoughts of obsessions
  3. The security-motivation model
  4. Negative feedback loop of repetitive actions
  5. Criticism and response
  6. Responses to the criticism
  7. The bizarre nature of OCD patients'
  8. Watching Monk
  9. Conclusion
  10. References

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is condition marked by persistent and intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and the repetition of relatively stereotyped behaviors despite the recognition that they are irrational (compulsions) (Szechtman & Woody, 2004). Individuals with OCD experience a high need for certainty coupled with a crippling sense of doubt in their own efficacy. For example, someone may find it impossible to suppress the thought that their hands might still be dirty, despite their memories of standing at the sink and using a full bottle of soap. However, it is not within the scope of this essay to attempt to address every possible theory of how OCD should be conceptualized and treated. Rather, the primary focus of this essay is to examine the validity of Szechtman and Woody's security motivation model of obsessive-compulsive behavior (2004). This theory frames obsessive-compulsive behavior as being rooted in an inability to generate an internal ?feeling of knowing? that is experienced differently from objective knowledge and normally serves as a terminator signal for security-driven actions such as washing oneself and checking the surroundings.

[...] The next major shortfall of the security motivation theory is that it fails to account for the heterogeneity of obsessive-compulsive symptoms. good model of OCD should be able to explain why one person has hoarding obsessions while another person has cleaning rituals and still another has a multitude of different types of rituals? (Taylor, McKay, & Abramowitz, 2005). To them, the security-motivation model does not adequately address the observed domain-specificity of many obsessives' safety concerns. Further, it does not account for the bizarre symptoms of OCD that seem unrelated to any type of security obsession, such as the individual who is plagued by The Flintstones theme song constantly playing in their mind (Taylor, McKay, & Abramowitz, 2005). [...]


[...] The resulting recurrence of these concerns about personal responsibility for safety could activate the security motivation system, causing the individual to participate in a bout of compulsive risk- alleviation motor behaviors. To continue the previous example, the individual whose security-motivation system is activated by obsessive thoughts of an airplane engine fire would be compelled to check out the window to make sure there were no visible problems with the wings. However, whereas most people, even including nervous fliers, would be sufficiently assuaged by an occasional glance out the window, the OCD individual is unable to generate an internal feeling of knowing based on this limited input. [...]


[...] While I certainly do not plan on second-guessing the opinions of those who actually suffer from OCD, I was nonetheless interested in seeing how thoroughly Adrian Monk's behavior would reflect what I learned through my own research. With that goal in mind, I will describe several specific scenes from the show that represent essential features of the obsessive- compulsive experience and point out any aspects that strike me as gross misrepresentations. The opening scene of the very first episode of Monk was an amazingly consistent reflection of what I learned about OCD. [...]

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