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Cognitive-behavioral theories suggest that the development of neutralizing is crucial in the development and persistence of obsessional problems (OCD). Twenty-nine patients with a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed., American Psychiatric Association, 1994) diagnosis of OCD were randomly allocated to 2 conditions. Both listened to repeated recorded presentations of their intrusive thoughts and either neutralized (experimental group) or distracted themselves (control). Discomfort was rated during this 1st phase and then during a 2nd phase without neutralizing or distraction. The experimental group showed a similar level of discomfort in the 1st phase, which significantly reduced during the period compared with controls. The experimental group experienced significantly more discomfort during the 2nd phase, and significantly stronger urges to neutralize and distract at the end of this phase than controls.

Original publication




Journal article


J Abnorm Psychol

Publication Date





709 - 715


Adult, Arousal, Attention, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Defense Mechanisms, Female, Humans, Male, Motivation, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Pain Measurement, Reference Values, Thinking