The Treatment of Incompleteness as a Core Dimension of Obsessive-Compulsive Symptoms

William Rafael Taboas, Fordham University


Modern conceptualizations of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have focused on addressing avoidance behaviors, namely Harm Avoidance (HA). Incompleteness (INC) has recently been examined as a core dimension of OCD. Habituation and inhibitory learning (IL) have both been proposed as viable mechanisms treatment efficacy utilizing Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). However, IL has not been examined in treatment outcome studies for OCD in comparison to habituation. The aim of this research was to evaluate differential response to interventions for HA versus INC. An analogue group of undergraduates (N = 65) ages 18 and older were recruited for participation. Participants completed a stove task to induce INC, and then were randomly assigned no treatment, habituation, or IL groups. Habituation consisted of repeated exposure to a pile of clutter until urge to correct subsided, whereas IL consisted of repeated ratings of subjective urge, followed by exposure. Participants were assessed for OC symptoms with the Obsessive-Compulsive Inventory-Revised (OCI-R). Participants were screened for inherent INC and HA utilizing the Obsessive–compulsive Core Dimensions Questionnaire (OC-CDQ). Participants rated their subjective distress and urge to correct in response to experimental manipulation. Additional measures were administered to assess for other INC domains, in addition to symptoms of anxiety and depression. Multiple Analyses of Variance were conducted to demonstrate the predictive value of INC induction on endorsed OC symptoms, endorsed HA, endorsed INC, and subjective urges to correct from pre-experiment to post-experiment. Changes in INC and OC symptomatology were observed for both habituation and IL groups. Significant mean differences in HA, INC, OC symptomatology, and subjective urges to correct were observed between habituation and IL groups. However, the habituation group demonstrated significantly greater improvement in comparison to IL. Results indicate that INC responds to ERP utilizing habituation and IL. This relationship shows promise in for treatment protocols for INC utilizing both habituation and IL.

Subject Area

Psychology|Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Taboas, William Rafael, "The Treatment of Incompleteness as a Core Dimension of Obsessive-Compulsive Symptoms" (2017). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10273765.