Introduction: A variety of subjective experiences have been reported to be associated with the symptom expression of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and Tourette syndrome (TS). First described in TS patients, these subjective experiences have been defined in different ways. There is no consensus in the literature on how to best define subjective experiences. This lack of consensus may hinder the understanding of study results and prevents the possibility of including them in the search for etiological factors associated with OCD and TS.
Methods: The objective of this article was to review the descriptions of subjective experiences in the English-language literature from 1980-2007. This meta-analytic review was carried out using the English-language literature from 1980-2007 available on MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and the Cochrane Library databases using the following search terms: premonitory urges, sensory tics, "just-right" perceptions, sensory phenomena, sensory experiences, incompleteness, "not just-right" phenomena, obsessive-compulsive disorder and TS, including OCD and/or TS, in all combination searches. We also searched for the references cited in each article previously found that referred to the aforementioned terms. Thirty-one articles were included in the study.
Results: Subjective experiences, in particular, the sensory phenomena, were important phenotypic variables in the characterization of the tic-related OCD subtype and were more frequent in the early-onset OCD subtype. There is a paucity of studies using structured interviews to assess sensory phenomena, their epidemiology and the etiological mechanisms associated with sensory phenomena.
Conclusion: The current review provides some evidence that sensory phenomena can be useful to identify more homogenous subgroups of OCD and TS patients and should be included as important phenotypic variables in future clinical, genetic, neuroimaging, and treatment-response studies.