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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Nature Or Nurture?

1962 words - 8 pages

Imagine feeling like a slave in your own body. Being forced to do ridiculous rituals and having constant compulsions to do things that you know don’t make sense. This is what it is like to live with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). In the United States alone, over 2 million people suffer from OCD (Parks, 2011) but no one has found the cause of this disorder. It affects people of all races, genders and socioeconomic backgrounds (Parks, 2011). Since it’s discovery and modern conceptualization, there has been an ongoing debate whether OCD is caused by environmental factors or if it is inherited through genetics. However, since both sides of the debate raise a solid argument and there is not enough hard evidence, the source of the disorder is unclear. So on the debate between nature versus nurture, OCD is a disorder caused by nature since it has been proven that genetic transmission, the serotonin theory and the PANDAS theory all cause OCD.
When it comes to family, OCD can be argued for both sides of the nature versus nurture debate. However, studies show that OCD is found more commonly in first-degree relatives of people suffering with OCD than relatives without an OCD patient within the family (Lewis, 1936). In his research of 50 families with an OCD relative, Lewis found that 37% of parents and 21% of siblings were determined to have OCD as well. His research was supported by another study which discovered that there is a 10 % chance of OCD in case-related families than a 1.9% chance in a family related to a psychologically healthy patient (Pauls et al, 1995). Once again it was supported by another study of 100 subjects that clearly stated that OCD is a familial disorder through it’s results of 11.7% chance of OCD in first-degree relatives in comparison to a 2.7% of OCD in controlled subjects’ relatives (Nestadt et al, 2000). Despite all of the evidence for genetic transmission, those who debate for nurture bring up valid points with familial structure. A study done by Adams (1973) found that many OCD patients come from families with a rigid and straight-laced environments, with many rituals and habits; especially habits that emphasize cleanliness and etiquette. His findings were supported by Thomsen (1994) who found that the brain structure of 24 patients from OCD-like familial structures did not differ substantially from patients with severe mental illnesses. Even though the Adams and Thomsen studies raise a fair point, of all the studies done on the correlation of OCD and families, a majority of them support genetic transmission (Nestadt et al, 2010). Therefore, OCD is more likely to be caused by heredity and genetics than family structures.
One of the more compelling theories of the cause of OCD is the serotonin theory. Two different theories based on serotonin are more prominent than the rest. Giddens (2009) explains the theory by stating that OCD is caused from a lack of a chemical substance called serotonin (a neurotransmitter). Her...

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