Henry Szechtman
Department of Psychiatry & Behavioural Neurosciences
McMaster University

Obsessive-compulsive disorder and its roots in normal behavior: From security motivation to psychopathology.

A possible perspective on psychiatric disorders is that they represent the manifestation of some bizarre de-novo brain function, not present in the normal population. An alternate framework is that a new brain function does not appear; rather, some component of a normal system is defective and without this component the system produces behavior that has the attributes of the psychiatric disorder. Within the latter viewpoint, symptoms of the disorder can be used to infer the normal workings of the intact system. I will present our theory (H. Szechtman and E. Woody. Psychol. Rev. 111 (1):111-127, 2004) that there exists a biologically primitive "security motivation system" with some special properties and that malfunctions of particular components would yield disorders in anxiety, including obsessive-compulsive disorder.