Marriage under control: Obsessive compulsive disorder and partnership.

  Vol. 41 (3) 2020 Neuro endocrinology letters Journal Article   2020; 41(3): 134-145 PubMed PMID:  33201647    Citation

BACKGROUND: People who have an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) tend to manifest a need for excessive control over their partners and other relatives, which then constitutes a principal problem in their relationships. This behaviour probably relates to an unmet need for safety in their childhood. This review article aims to explore the interpersonal dimension of OCD. METHOD: Sources used in this review were acquired via PubMed from January 1990 to January 2020. The search terms included "obsessive compulsive disorder", "OCD", "marital problems", "marital conflicts", "marital attachment", and "partnership". Primary search with keywords in various combinations yielded 242 articles. After applying inclusion and exclusion criteria, 68 articles were found eligible for further research, and a secondary search was performed by screening their reference lists for relevant articles. In total, 124 papers were included in the review. RESULTS: OCD patients often have interpersonal problems that are related to symptomatology and the excessive need for control over the relationship. The patient is often addicted to his/her loved ones and transmits his excessive concerns to them. The studies describe increased marital distress, less satisfaction with their partner and couples experiencing less intimacy. The communication style of people suffering from OCD often shows a tendency to control others extensively, which is probably related to their exaggerated need for safety. Individuals with preoccupied or avoidant attachment styles are more likely to become jealous and to consider any rival as threatening than those people who have a safe attachment style. CONCLUSION: Participation of the partner in the therapy can have positive effects. Furthermore, family-based exposure and response prevention programs might be useful for reducing OCD symptoms.

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