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The purpose of this paper is to consider the possible origins of an inflated sense of responsibility which occupies an important place in the cognitive theory of obsessive compulsive disorder (Rachman, S. (1993). Obsessions, responsibility, and guilt. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 31, 149-154. Salkovskis, P. M. (1985). Obsessional-compulsive Problems: A cognitive-behavioural analysis. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 23 (5), 571-583). Clinical experience and consideration of current cognitive conceptualisations of obsessions and obsessive compulsive disorder suggest a number of possibilities, each of which is described after a brief introduction to the concept itself. While there are reasons to believe that some general patterns can be identified, the origins of obsessional problems are best understood in terms of complex interactions specific to each individual. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd.

Original publication




Journal article


Behaviour Research and Therapy

Publication Date





1055 - 1072