Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

According to the cognitive theory, obsessional problems occur when the occurrence and/or content of intrusive thoughts are interpreted as a sign of increased personal responsibility for some harmful outcome to oneself or others. The link between normal intrusive thoughts and obsessional thoughts is outlined. Current definitions of “neutralizing” and “responsibility” within the cognitive framework are examined and clarified. Responsibility-driven attempts to control cognitive activity explain obsessional and compulsive phenomena better than generalized deficit models. Recent descriptions of “meta-cognitive” factors in obsessions echo the existing cognitive model and have similar implications. An extension of the cognitive-behavioural model suggests a link between thought suppression and the perception of responsibility and to concerns about failure to act (omissions). © 1995, British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies. All rights reserved.

Original publication




Journal article


Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy

Publication Date





281 - 299