The concealment of obsessions

Behav Res Ther. 2001 Apr;39(4):457-64. doi: 10.1016/s0005-7967(00)00006-1.


Patients' deliberate concealment from others of the content and frequency of their obsessions is a common and important aspect of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It is an overlooked manifestation of the safety behaviour that is believed to sustain OCD (e.g., neutralizing, thought suppression, avoidance behaviour, concealment). The phenomenon of concealment is understandable in terms of the cognitive theory of obsessions which states that obsessions are caused when the person attaches catastrophic personal significance to their unwanted intrusive thoughts. It is suggested that the selected, planned, suitable disclosure of obsessions can be therapeutic--presumably because it exposes the patient to alternative interpretations of the significance of the unwanted thoughts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Deception*
  • Humans
  • Obsessive Behavior / psychology*
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / psychology*
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Psychotherapeutic Processes
  • Self Disclosure
  • Shame
  • Surveys and Questionnaires