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The difference between obsession and delusion
Date:9/4/2013

otor behavior, and diminished emotional expression, among other symptoms.

Eilam and graduate student Anat Gershoni of the Zoology Department and Prof. Haggai Hermesh of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine set out with Dr. Naomi Fineberg of the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in England to resolve the controversy. To this end, they recorded and compared videos of diagnosed OCD and schizo-OCD patients performing 10 different mundane tasks, like leaving home, making tea, or cleaning a table. The patients met the criteria of the widely used Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

A matter of space

The researchers found that both OCD and schizo-OCD patients exhibited OCD-like behavior in performing the tasks, excessively repeating and adding actions. But schizo-OCD patients additionally acted like schizophrenics.

For a typical OCD patient in the study, the task of leaving home involved standing in one place and repeatedly checking the contents of his pockets before finally taking his keys and cell phone and going to the door. In contrast, a typical schizo-OCD patient traveled around the apartment switching the lights in the bathroom on and off, then taking his keys and phone to the door, going to scan the bedroom, then taking his keys and phone to the door, going to empty the ashtray, then taking his keys and phone to the door and so on. A typical healthy person would simply pick up his keys and phone and walk out.

Overall, the researchers found that the level of obsessive-compulsive behavior was the same in OCD and schizo-OCD patients. This suggests that both types of patients had the difficulty shifting attention from one task to another that helps define OCD. The schizo-OCD patients, though, did more divergent activity over a larger area than did OCD patients. This suggests that the schizo-OCD patients were continuously shifting attention, which happens in schizophrenia but not OCD.

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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert

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