The psychobiology of obsessive-compulsive disorder: how important is the role of disgust?

D. J. Stein, Y. Liu, N. A. Shapira, W. K. Goodman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Psychobiologic models of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have focused on cortico-striatal-thalamic-cortical (CTSC) circuits, noting normal function in cognitive and motoric procedural strategies. Such models have relied on the classification of OCD as an anxiety disorder, seldom exploring other relevant emotions. Based on the hypothesis that a central emotion in OCD is disgust, the authors review the literature on its psychobiology and its relevance to current models of OCD. There are important parallels between the psychobiology of OCD and that of disgust. Obsessive- compulsive disorder may be conceptualized in terms of a false contamination alarm in which disgust plays a crucial organizing or embodying role, not only at a basic brain level, but also in terms of the psychosocial aspects of the disorder. Just as psychobiologic models of panic disorder and post- traumatic stress disorder have been strengthened by the inclusion of preclinical work on amygdala-mediated fear conditioning, so findings on disgust and its mediating CSTC circuits may generate useful hypotheses for OCD research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-287
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Psychiatry Reports
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2001
Externally publishedYes


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