The behavioral theory suggests that people with OCD associate certain objects or situations with fear, and that they learn to avoid the things they fear or to perform rituals that help reduce the fear. This pattern of fear and avoidance/ritual may begin when people are under periods of high emotional stress, such as starting a new job or ending a relationship. At such times, we are more vulnerable to fear and anxiety. Often things once regarded as "neutral" may begin to bring on feelings of fear. For example, a person who has always been able to use public toilets may, when under stress, make a connection between the toilet seat and a fear of catching an illness. Once a connection between an object and the feeling of fear becomes established, people with OCD avoid the things they fear, rather than confront or tolerate the fear. For instance, the person who fears catching an illness from public toilets will avoid using them. When forced to use a public toilet, he or she will perform elaborate cleaning rituals, such as cleaning the toilet seat, cleaning the door handles of the cubicle or following a detailed washing procedure. Because these actions temporarily reduce the level of fear, the fear is never challenged and dealt with and the behaviour is reinforced. The association of fear may spread to other objects, such as public sinks and showers. BEHAVIOURAL APPROACH
* Suggest that OCD is an extreme form of ‘learned avoidance’ behaviour: * At first, an event is associated with an anxiety or fear, as a result → avoidance behaviour initially alleviates the fear * BUT consequently, it becomes a conditioned response
* If the behavior reduces anxiety it becomes reinforced
* Superstition Hypothesis (Skinner, 1948) – Found that people who develop OCD’s make by chance associations between behaviors and reinforces. This leads them to repeat the behaviors. Treatments
In behavioral therapy, people with OCD learn to confront and reduce...