Obsessive Compulsive Disorder An Analysis of the Relationship Between Cultural Factors and Cognitive Processes

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Jordan Wellsch


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a debilitating and multifaceted mental illness comprised of both obsessive thoughts and subsequent compulsive actions. The purpose of this paper is to garner a better understanding of how cultural factors impact the presentation of OCD by exploring "naturally" occurring obsessions and rituals, cross-cultural comparisons of Canadian and Turkish OCD samples, as well as by exploring the "culture-bound" variants of OCD referred to as Koro and Anorexia Nervosa with excessive exercise. The findings question the validity of classifying illnesses as "culture-bound" and suggest that cultural factors may have a direct impact on the cognitive processes involved in the presentation of OCD. Future cross-cultural research is needed to better understand the personal narratives and cognitive processes of diverse OCD patients. An interdisciplinary approach which combines the efforts of psychology and anthropology may be well suited for such research.