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December 1982

Recent Advances in the Behavioral Treatment of Obsessive-Compulsives

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1982;39(12):1365-1371. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1982.04290120001001

• The last decade has witnessed remarkable progress in the treatment of obsessive-compulsives, with the introduction of response prevention and deliberate exposure to feared situations in vivo and in imagination. In a series of studies, the effects of the single components of this program were investigated. The results suggest that the optimal treatment includes a combination of all three procedures. It appears that in vivo exposure mainly affects anxiety/discomfort associated with cues for ritualizing; response prevention affects primarily compulsive behavior; and imaginal exposure assists in maintenance of treatment gains, perhaps through its impact on fears of future catastrophes associated with obsessions.