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Mental contamination in people with OCD has been linked to the perceived impact of being betrayed and betraying others. In this study, participants with OCD (N = 56) and community controls (N = 37) were randomised to an induction involving eliciting autobiographical memories of either being betrayed by someone they trusted or betraying someone that trusted them. The OCD group experienced greater increases in state mental contamination and anxiety than the control group, but no differences were observed between groups in urges to wash or drink. Both betrayal conditions elicited similar levels of mental contamination and anxiety. The results of this study suggest that people with OCD experience similar increases in mental contamination and anxiety not only when recalling memories of being a victim of betrayal but also when recalling being a perpetrator. People with OCD are therefore more sensitive to betrayal experiences than community controls. Clinical implications and implications for future research are discussed.

Original publication




Journal article


Behav Res Ther

Publication Date





Betrayal, Experiment, Memories, OCD, Perpetrator, Victim