Salkovskis’ theory on the table of contents: what it is and what it offers

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or OCD is a problem that causes great suffering and distress to those who suffer from it and is very disabling.

Analyzing how and why OCD appears is something necessary to understand it and to be able to develop treatments that overcome or at least reduce symptoms. And among the many theories that try to explain how it works, we can find Salkovskis TOC theory. Let’s see what it is.

    Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

    It is understood as obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD to a type of mental disorder or disorder deeply related to anxiety disorders, which is characterized by the experience of intrusive, recurring, uncontrollable, and egodistonic thoughts which generate a high level of anxiety and discomfort for those who suffer to find them unacceptable or unwanted, although these thoughts are perceived as their own.

    These intrusive thoughts we call them obsessionsWhat the person goes to great lengths to avoid or eliminate from their thinking. Precisely because of these efforts and maintaining the attention to not having these thoughts, it facilitates the reappearance in the psyche of obsessive thinking.

    While this does not happen in all cases, obsessive thoughts often generate such a level of anxiety that the subject ends up performing some type of physical or mental ritual in order to reduce their discomfort or prevent their thinking from happening. has consequences. These acts are called compulsions.

    Often these behaviors have no direct connection to what the person is trying to avoid or are exaggerated for the connection they might have, and it is common for the subject himself to consider this ritual something absurd. but that you should do.


    OCD is a disorder that can be very disabling, given the person he uses a lot of time to try to control his thoughts or perform rituals. This usually generates great suffering as the person usually has a high level of hyper-responsibility and guilt for their thoughts, in addition to a high level of uncertainty and doubt.

    It is not uncommon for one to constantly try to control one’s thoughts and preventing anxiety ends up causing depressive symptoms. In addition, the person often has difficulty concentrating and may experience a drop in performance, which can lead to academic, professional and social problems.

    The causes of obsessive-compulsive disorder are not yet completely clear, although there are several hypotheses and theories that seek to explain the reason for its emergence.

    An education that is too rigid or overprotective, the presence of a predisposing biology, inhibition of impulses and desires, the fusion of thought-action and aspects like hyper-responsibility are some of the factors that can influence its emergence. And one of the theories that tries to explain how a thought becomes obsessive is found in Salkovskis’ theory of OCD.

    Salkovskis TOC theory

    Among the many theories that attempt to explain how obsessive-compulsive disorder arises and persists, one of the best known and most relevant cognitive theories is the theory of Salkovskis and colleagues.

    Salkovskis theory proposes that obsessions they trigger automatic thoughts in relation to his own responsibility for thought control.

    The author maintains that one of the main causes of obsessive-compulsive disorder is the existence of hypersponsibility, to the point of considering that the same person has the power to produce or predict negative results and that it is essential to act to avoid the bear. .

    The existence of a thought considered unacceptable it arouses in the subject anguish and anguish by considering that he is responsible for something that degrades him, Even if you think it shouldn’t happen. Compulsions seek to avoid being responsible for the fact that thoughts can have negative (usually catastrophic) repercussions on others.

    It is established that in everyday life we ​​all have intrusive negative and aversive thoughts as extreme as those which can become obsessive, but in most cases they are accepted as consistent or simply circumstantial, not giving them of importance.

    People with OCD find these thoughts ** unacceptable and punishable **, so anxiety and discomfort arise because they have had them.

    So, the main factor in the onset of anxiety is not just one’s own thinking, but one’s own assessment of intrusive thinking. It will be this evaluation that will lead you to provoke an obsessive thought. become recurrent and persistent instead of disappearing, By generating automatic thoughts in relation to that thought.

    In the case of people with OCD, these thoughts will be responsible for what the obsessions can generate, and it will be these thoughts that will end up making the person anxious and sick.

      Beliefs and hyperresponsibility as key factors

      Some of the beliefs from which a person with obsessive-compulsive disorder starts and which ends up facilitating and helping to interpret the person who is responsible for controlling his thinkingWe may find the idea that not being able to prevent harm to others (or to oneself) is tantamount to generating it.

      It is also common to believe that not making coercion is tantamount to wanting or not to prevent the content of thought from becoming reality, and that thinking something is tantamount to doing it (at least morally) or that it is necessary. to do. control the thought itself, without anything that can diminish this responsibility.

      The origin of these beliefs is not predeterminedBut it is generally attributed to all the learning and experiences that the subject has had throughout his life. Parenting styles and parenting style are some of the most relevant aspects, especially if they have been rigid or overly protective. The existence of bullying or experiences that cause the child to feel the need to suppress and control his instincts and thoughts can also be risk factors.

      with exceptions

      While Salkovskis states in his theory that a key factor in the genesis of OCD is the presence of hypersponsibility, the truth is that he also recognizes that there are obsessions that are not related to this feeling, And that although not frequent there are cases in which the ritual in question can become less egodistónico or even feel like pleasures.

      However, he states that these cases will usually be long-standing cases in which there are compulsions that greatly reduce anxiety and in which there is no resistance to the thought or ritual.

      Bibliographical references:

      • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fifth edition. DSM-V. Masson, Barcelona.
      • Belloch, Sandín and Ramos (2008). Manual of psychopathology. McGraw-Hill. Madrid.
      • Kodysz, S. (sf). Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Brief bibliographic review. Mental health fact sheets.
      • Salkovskis, PM (1985). Obsessive and Compulsive Problems: Cognitive Behavioral Analysis. Behavioral Research and Therapy, 23, 571-583.
      • Salkovskis, PM (1999). Obsessive-compulsive understanding and treatment
      • disorder. Behavioral Research and Therapy, 37, S29-S52.
      • Vallejo, MA (2001). Effective psychological treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder. Psicothema, 13 (3): 419-427.

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