Almost half of people with obsessive compulsive disorder have extreme fears about touching something they feel is ‘contaminated’.
- Conventional treatments, which often involve a combination of a prescription drug (typically an SSRI such as Prozac) plus cognitive behavioural therapy, help only about 60 per cent of people with OCD
- The hand-washing video was designed with the hope that it would allow a kind of vicarious cleansing, assuaging the individual’s concerns about contamination without them having to actually go and wash their hands.
- In the first intervention, participants watched a brief video recording of themselves engaging in handwashing on a smartphone, four times a day, for a total of one week (N = 31). The second intervention was similar except that participants watched themselves repeatedly touching a disgust-inducing object (N = 31). In a third (control) “intervention”, participants watched themselves performing sequential hand movements (N = 31). As hypothesized, the two smartphone interventions, unlike the control, improved cognitive flexibility; as assessed on the Intradimensional–Extradimensional Set Shifting task (a sensitive marker of cognitive flexibility). The two interventions, unlike the control, also improved OCD symptoms (measured with the Obsessive–Compulsive Inventory–Revised and Yale–Brown Obsessive–Compulsive Scale).
Sources: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-33142-2 & https://digest.bps.org.uk/2018/11/19/repeatedly-watching-a-video-of-themselves-touching-a-filthy-bedpan-reduced-peoples-ocd-symptoms/#more-35289