Excessive Ritualism Linked to Mental Disorder

Friday, 30 December 2011, 05:55 Hrs
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 Tel Aviv: Hypersensitivity and sticking to childhood rituals may be an early warning sign of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) later.

Its symptoms include excessive washing or cleaning, repeated checking, preoccupation with sexual, violent or religious thoughts and nervous rituals such as opening and closing a door a certain number of times before entering or leaving a room.

Reuven Dar, professor of psychology at the Tel Aviv University who led the study, first suspected the link while working with OCD patients who reported sensitivity to touch and taste as children, the Journal of Behaviour Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry reports.

"If you see that a child is very rigid with rituals, becoming anxious if unable to engage in this behaviour, it is more alarming," he explained.

Also, age is a factor. A habit exhibited by a five or six-year-old is not necessarily a predictor of OCD, according to a Tel Aviv statement.

If the same behaviour continues to the ages of eight and above, it could be a warning sign, especially if accompanied by anxiety or distress.

The study suggests that when children experience heightened levels of sensitivity, they develop ritualistic behaviours to better cope with their environment and later OCD.

Two studies were devised to map the connection between sensory processing, rituals, and OCD. Results from both studies indicated a strong connection between compulsive tendencies and hypersensitivity.

In children, hypersensitivity was an indicator of ritualism, whereas in adults it was related to OCD symptoms.

Source: IANS
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