Early life experiences in ocd and other disorders: a retrospective observational study using imagery with re-scripting

Barbara Basile, Brunetto De Sanctis, Stefania Fadda, Olga Ines Luppino, Claudia Perdighe, Angelo Maria Saliani, Katia Tenore, Francesco Mancini (2018): Early life experiences in ocd and other disorders: a retrospective observational study using imagery with re-scripting. In: Clinical Neuropsychiatry , 15 (5), pp. 299-305, 2018.


Objective: The close link between obsessive symptomatology, guilt and inflated responsibility is well documented, although one might suppose that guilt sensitiveness and dysfunctional beliefs about responsibility are rooted further in time. imagery with rescripting (iwr) is an emotion-focused technique that binds actual stressful emotions to past memories where similar feelings were activated. it is used to change the meaning of emotionally distressing memories, turning aversive mental images into positive ones, and achieving a healthier prospective on the event. the aim of this study was to compare the content of iwr exercises, collected during an on-going cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy, in OcD and non-OcD patients, in order to explore eventual differences in their early negative childhood memories. we expected guilt and blame-related childhood episodes to be more frequent in OcD, compared against non-OcD patients.
Method: forty-one imagery exercises were collected and categorized according to their content, emotions, needs, type of re-scripting, and fnal cognitive re-attribution.
Results: OCD patients reported signifcantly more blame/reproach memories, expressing more guilt emotion and needs for acceptance. within the re-scripting phase, all patients, regardless of their diagnosis, concluded the exercise protecting, reassuring and fostering emotional and needs expression, with no specifc difference between groups.
Conclusions: this work has several limitations, including the subjective nature of the study, the small sample size and unbalanced gender distribution across samples. However, our fndings are in line with cognitive models on OCD, supporting the role of guilt-related early experiences that seem to be specifc to this disorder