No Trust: Discovering the Roots of OCD, Neurosis

Neuroses and obsessive-compulsive symptoms affect millions who often have little idea as to why, yet new research suggests that sufferers place little-to-no trust in their past experience, leading to increased uncertainty, indecisiveness, and exploratory behaviours.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by intrusive thoughts, urges, or images that cause marked distress, and repetitive behavioral or mental rituals.

A famous example includes uncertainty after turning off lights when a person with OCD can easily become unsure whether the lights are actually off, returning repeatedly to check.

Such behaviour reflects a difficulty in trusting acquired experience, leading to an excessive need for gathering updated evidence, according to the study authors.

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Lead author of the study Isaac Fradkin said: “Our findings highlight a novel framework for understanding the cognitive and computational process that gives rise to obsessive-compulsive symptoms.

“The results also stand in stark contrast with the common preconception of OCD as being characterized by inflexible behaviour, distinguished by overreliance on past experience.”

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