Study: Intense Self-Criticism the Root of OCD, Anxiety
Study: Intense Self-Criticism the Root of OCD, Anxiety Recovering Man

A new study has found that people who show intense levels of self-criticism and/or an inflated sense of personal responsibility are susceptible to developing obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

The study was published in the International Journal of Cognitive Therapy.

Associate Professor Yoshinori Sugiura of the University of Hiroshima, an author of the research said he undertook the study to shed light on the foundations of OCD and GAD, with too many competing theories complicating our understanding.

Sugiura identified “inflated responsibility” as one key driver of GAD/OCD.

Inflated responsibility is often a result of childhood trauma.

The team also identified 3 types of inflated responsibility:

  • Responsibility to prevent or avoid danger and/or harm
  • Sense of personal responsibility and blame for negative outcomes
  • Responsibility to continue thinking about a problem.

An inflated sense of responsibility has been explored by Recovering Man Founder Richard Joy who articulates it as an inability to trust in life itself, therefore subconsciously the sufferer attempts to ‘manage’ every aspect of life, which is impossible, thus creating further anxiety.

View Richard’s story below:

While OCD-like behaviors (such as double-checking the door is locked and electricity is off) are common in the general population, OCD is marked by the frequency and intensity of these behaviors or feelings that make the difference between a character trait and disorder.

Sugiura is currently looking into how to reduce responsibility and the preliminary outcomes are positive.

When asked for any tips to reduce anxiety or obsessive behaviors he said: “[A] very quick or easy way is to realize that [inflated] responsibility is working behind your worry.

“I ask ‘Why are you worried so much?’ so patients answer ‘I can’t help but worry’ but they will not spontaneously think ‘Because I feel responsibility’ … just realizing that will make some space between responsibility thinking and your behavior.”

Read more: 3 Steps to Process PTSD (and Come Back Fighting)

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