The hypothesized relationships between the proposed cognitive affective structures and OC phenomena have not been previously empirically investigated. The aim of this dissertation was to examine these relationships. In order to do this, four studies were conducted.
Although aspects of self and world view have been linked implicitly or explicitly with OC phenomena (e.g., overestimation of threat and self ambivalence), a systematic examination of these constructs has yet to be undertaken. Chapter 4 examines the relationship between world view assumptions and OC phenomena. Specifically, this study investigates whether a constellation of world and self assumptions predicts OC severity scores, and whether these assumptions independently relate to OCD severity over and above other affective and cognitive variables. In addition, this study aims to establish the degree to which world and self assumptions are related to OC symptom dimensions when controlling for currently accepted affective and cognitive variables.
To date, the link between particular aspects of self concept and OC phenomena has not been investigated. Chapter 5 examines whether the structure of individuals' self-concept is associated with OC related cognitions and symptoms. In particular, the study explores whether individuals who highly value particular self domains (e.g., morality, job-competence and social acceptability), but feel compromised or incompetent within these domains, show an increase in the severity of OC symptoms and cognitions.
Given the hypothesized relationship between attachment experiences and perceptions of self, the world and OC phenomena (see Chapter 2), there is a need for an evaluation of these relationships. This thesis does not directly examine attachment experiences. However, adult attachment representations that are hypothesized to reflect the quality of such experiences are examined. Chapter 6 tests several possible structural relationships between adult attachment representations and perceptions of self, the world and OC phenomena using structural equation modeling (SEM) techniques. It is proposed that attachment related internal working models (IMW) influence OC symptoms via their influence on perceptions of self, others and the world and OC related cognitions.
In the first three studies, two non-clinical student cohorts were used. Research suggests that non-clinical populations experience similar intrusive thoughts to clinical populations, although of a lesser frequency and resulting distress (e.g., Purdon, 2001; Rachman & de Silva, 1978). Further, like individuals presenting with OCD, non-clinical participants have reported engaging in compulsive behaviors in order to remove distress or prevent feared outcomes (Ladouceur et al., 1995; Muris, Harald, & Clavan, 1997). Such results have been replicated numerous times in other studies (reviewed in Gibbs, 1996). Thus, contemporary cognitive models of OCD follow a dimensional model of beliefs and symptoms (e.g., Salkovskis, 1985).
Finally, to further establish the relevance and importance of these cognitive-affective structures to OCD, Chapter 7 examines the proposed relationships with a clinical sample. In this study, the relevance of these structures to OCD was examined using a group of individuals presenting with OCD. The specificity of these structures to OCD was investigated by comparing the OCD cohort with a group of individuals presenting with anxiety disorder other then OCD and community participants.
In summary, four studies were conducted. In the first two studies, the relationships between perceptions of self and world view, OCD symptoms and OCD-related beliefs was examined. The third study examined the structural relationship between adult attachment representation, particular self structures, world assumptions and OC symptoms and cognitions. These three studies were conducted in non-clinical student population. Finally, an exploration of the importance and specificity of these structures to OCD, compared to other anxiety disorders, was undertaken. Specific aims and hypotheses for each of the studies are presented in the relevant chapters. Overall, this thesis aimed to expand current cognitive models of OCD by identifying additional cognitive-affective structures that may play an important role in dynamic of OCD.