Inflated Sense Of Responsibility May Drive OCD And Anxiety

Scientists in Japan have found that a strong sense of responsibility is associated with developing psychological disorders.

AsianScientist (May 13, 2019) – In a study published in the International Journal of Cognitive Therapy, researchers in Japan have found that people who reported intense feelings of responsibility were susceptible to developing obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

Anxiety and OCD-like behaviors, such as checking if the door is locked, are common in the general population. However, it is the frequency and intensity of these behaviors or feelings that make the difference between a character trait and disorder. Over the years, many theories and therapies for mental disorders have been proposed.

In the present study, researchers led by Associate Professor Yoshinori Sugiura of the University of Hiroshima, Japan, wanted to find a common cause for disorders such as OCD and GAD. The team first defined and identified three types of ‘inflated responsibility’—responsibility to prevent or avoid danger and/or harm, a sense of personal blame for negative outcomes, and lastly, responsibility to continue thinking about a problem.

Subsequently, they tested whether inflated responsibility was a predictor of OCD or GAD using an online questionnaire. Their findings revealed that respondents who scored higher in questions about responsibility were more likely to exhibit behaviors that resemble those of OCD or GAD patients.

The researchers cautioned that theirs is a preliminary study and may not be fully representative of the general population due to the small scale and skewed population of mostly female university students. However, the study suggests that their assessment approach can be applied to a larger population and yield similar results. Sugiura is currently looking into how to reduce pathological responsibility in patients.

“I ask [patients] ‘Why are you worried so much?’ and they answer ‘I can’t help but worry,’ but they seldom spontaneously think ‘because I feel responsibility’… Simply acknowledging this difference [could be helpful],” he said.

The article can be found at: Sugiura & Fisak (2019) Inflated Responsibility in Worry and Obsessive Thinking.


Source: Hiroshima University; Photo: Pexels.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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