Towards an integration of psychological and biological models of obsessive-compulsive disorder: Phylogenetic considerations

Lisa J. Cohen, Dan Stein, Igor Galynker, Eric Hollander

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

10 Scopus citations


In the past 10 to 15 years, advances in psychopharmacology and research on the neurobiological basis of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have led to the currently predominant biological model of OCD. Nevertheless, the centrality of complex ideation in OCD supports the usefulness of a psychological approach. In this article, we propose an integrated psychobiological model that presumes a biological etiology without assuming biological reductionism. We hypothesize that the relationship between biological and psychological organization is best explained in the context of emergent systems theory, and that the psychological meaning of OCD reflects development across phylogeny as opposed to ontogeny. Finally, we propose that OCD reflects disruption of a behavioral inhibition/harm assessment system that incorporates brain structures from different points across human phylogeny. Hence, complex psychological symptoms of a biological etiology are generated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-44
Number of pages19
JournalCNS Spectrums
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1997
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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