Category: Obsessive Compulsive and Related Disorders

Symposium

Symposium 139 - Sensory Features of Obsessive-Compulsive-Related Disorders: From Community to Clinical Populations

Sunday, November 19
10:15 AM - 11:45 AM
Location: Sapphire Ballroom C & D, Level 4, Sapphire Level

Keywords: OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) | Trichotillomania | Exposure
Presentation Type: Symposium

Obsessive-compulsive related disorders (OCRDs) are characterized by ruminative thoughts, anxiety, and repetitive behaviors. However, a growing body of literature suggests that there are important sensory features of OCRDs. Compulsive symptoms are often instigated by feelings that stimuli in the environment are not “just right”, and affected individuals frequently describe heightened sensory sensitivity. Occasional instances of sensory intolerance in healthy individuals are common, such as feelings of aversion/disgust during exposure to high-pitched noises, prickly or sticky substances, strong odors, or objects that are arranged asymmetrically. Although occasional aversion to sensory experiences would not likely cause significant distress or impairment, having a great deal of sensory intolerance could conceivably lead to avoidance of certain stimuli or compulsive behaviors aimed at mitigating aversive sensations. This pattern of maladaptive sensory avoidance mirrors symptoms of OCRDs, but it is currently unclear how abnormal sensory phenomena are related to OCRD psychopathology, how sensory phenomena are associated with symptom maintenance, and how to address sensory features of OCRDs during treatment.


            In the current symposium, we will present various findings that link abnormal sensory experiences to OCRDs. Lillian Reuman will describe a common auditory phenomenon in which persons obsessively ruminate on musical stimuli (i.e., “earworms”), providing evidence that these musical obsessions are associated with psychological inflexibility and compulsive thought suppression. Furthermore, Monica Wu will present data from a community sample linking selective sound sensitivity (Misophonia) to specific symptoms of OCD. David Houghton will offer novel findings showing that pathological body-focused repetitive behaviors (e.g., hair pulling and skin picking) are associated with heightened sensory sensitivity, impaired sensory gating, and aberrant interoceptive experiences. Meredith Coles will then present a recent investigation of “not just-right” experiences in OCD and their connection to emotion regulation, behavioral symptoms, and treatment expectations. Finally, William Taboas will provide a clinically relevant capstone to the symposium by offering evidence for how to manage sensory symptoms of OCRDs in treatment. This presentation will show results from a clinical trial of exposure therapy for incompleteness symptoms in OCD, showing that incompleteness responds to habituation-based and inhibitory learning-based methods. The discussant for this symposium will then relate these findings to etiological processes that underlie compulsive behaviors and offer insights into improving cognitive-behavioral interventions for OCRDs.

Learning Objectives:

David C. Houghton

Doctoral Student
Texas A&M University

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Douglas W. Woods

Marquette University

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Lillian Reuman

Graduate Student
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Presentation(s):

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Monica S. Wu

Graduate Student
University of South Florida

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David C. Houghton

Doctoral Student
Texas A&M University

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Meredith Coles

Binghamton University

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William Taboas

Fordham University

Presentation(s):

Send Email for William Taboas


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