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Psychopathology – OCD

3. Biological Explanations

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In this module, we think about the biological factors which may be involved in causing OCD. We begin by considering the role of genes, discussing two research studies which suggest that OCD is heritable (Lewis, 1926) and polygenic, i.e. caused by more than one gene (Taylor, 2013). We then consider two further studies which provide evidence for the thesis that genetics are a factor in causing OCD (Nestadt, 2010), whilst also highlighting the importance of gene-environment interaction (Cromer et al., 2007). Finally, we examine the neural mechanisms associated with OCD, focussing in particular on the role of serotonin and how the abnormal functioning of the frontal lobe area of the brain may be linked to impaired decision-making in those suffering from the condition.


In this course, Dr Emma Sharpe (University of Derby) discusses obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a mental health condition characterised by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. In module one, we think about how OCD can be defined and diagnosed before moving on, in module two, to explore the behavioural, emotional and cognitive characteristics of the condition. Next, we examine the biological causes of OCD in module three, focussing in particular on genetic and neural explanations. We then move on to think about how OCD can be treated, exploring drug treatments in module four and psychological treatments in module five. Module six concludes the course with a summary of key points covered.


Emma Sharpe graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Psychology from Loughborough University in 2011. Following this, she went on to complete both an MRes in 2012 and PhD in 2015. She joined the University of Derby as a lecturer in October 2015, having previously worked as a University Teacher at Loughborough University.

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APA style

Sharpe, E. (2019, November 07). Psychopathology – OCD - Biological Explanations [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Sharpe, E. "Psychopathology – OCD – Biological Explanations." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 07 Nov 2019,

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