Study Says Sexually Obsessive Thoughts May be Common for OCD Patients

Posted by on 08 17 11 in Sexual Addiction | Comments Off on Study Says Sexually Obsessive Thoughts May be Common for OCD Patients

In a little-known area of research, experts are studying a unique area of patients who have obsessive-compulsive thought patterns toward sex. The subjects of the study have had obsessive-compulsive thoughts their entire lives, but many have experienced undesirable obsessive thoughts toward sex. Researchers hope to discover more information toward treating distinct types of thought patterns that patients with obsessive compulsive disorder exhibit, and to learn more about the prevalence of obsessive sexual thoughts for people with this complex disorder.

The study researchers, including University of Minnesota associate psychiatry professor Dr. Jon Grant and colleagues, tested 300 people who have experienced obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) for a large portion of their lives. No other research is known to have as large a sample population of patients who have the disorder. Of the 300 study participants, researchers said around 25 percent have experienced obsessive thought patterns toward sexual behavior. During the study, 13 percent said they had thoughts such as sexual behavior with family members, youth or sometimes animals. A percentage also said they had unwanted thoughts about aggressive sexual actions.

Published in Comprehensive Psychiatry, study researchers said that based on the findings, they determined that obsessive thoughts toward sex are not uncommon for OCD patients, and they also offered new insight toward some long-held beliefs about OCD and sexual thoughts. Contrary to previous theories, sexually-based obsessive-compulsive thoughts are not necessarily more prevalent in males. Researchers also said that people with these types of OCD-related thoughts can also experience normal sexual function, in contrast to previous beliefs.

Obsessive compulsive disorder is a type of anxiety disorder in which patients have intrusive and uncontrolled thought patterns toward certain behaviors, and can also exhibit ritualistic actions. Even though they know the thoughts or behavior patterns aren’t rational, patients with OCD are often unable to stop without professional help. Common types of OCD behaviors include repeated hand washing, checking to see if things are off, arranging things or hoarding items. The compulsive element of OCD refers to being unable to stop performing a ritual, typically on the false belief that doing the action will cure or stop the problem. Over time, the thoughts and behaviors of OCD can take up more and more time and lead to more anxiety.

However, new information emerged in the study that set people apart among OCD patients who have sexual-based obsessions and those with non-sexual obsessions. Many of the participants whose behavior patterns included undesired sexual thoughts also experienced undesired thoughts of violence. The age at which the unwanted sexual thought patterns emerged is also different for these participants than participants with OCD who do not experience undesired sexual thoughts. On average, people with OCD and undesired sexual or violent thoughts began experiencing the thoughts as young as 15.

 

Researchers speculate that the normal biological and mental events that occur with puberty may be linked with the emergence of unwanted sexual thoughts for the OCD patients, and that the bizarre and societally unacceptable nature of the sexual thoughts may have prevented patients from addressing the problem.

The research team hopes experts working with patients with OCD will ask about undesired sexual thoughts, since the patients will likely be too embarrassed to discuss them independently. Experts and treatment specialists should also be aware that unwanted sexual thoughts are not uncommon for patients living with obsessive compulsive disorder. Additional research, says Grant, should address which types of treatment strategies may be most effective for OCD patients who have sexual or aggressive thoughts as part of their obsessive thought patterns.