Andri Björnsson: "Obsessions, compulsions and social trauma"

  • Date: –12:00
  • Location: Blåsenhus - 13:137
  • Organiser: Department of Psychology
  • Contact person: Gustaf Gredebäck
  • Seminarium

The General Seminar

Professor Andri Björnsson, Department of Psychology, University of Iceland: "Obsessions, compulsions and social trauma: Maintaining processes across mental disorders?"

Why are mental disorders so chronic? What maintains mental disorders? In recent years, there have been increased research efforts to identify processes that can be found across disorders to keep them chronic. Examples of processes that seem to be at work in most disorders are attention biases, avoidance and rumination. The idea is that if we identify those processes, then treatment should be targeted at them. In this talk, I will explore two such processes. First, obsessions and compulsions have mostly been researched in the context of obsessive-compulsive disorder and other disorders on the so-called Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum. I will present some data to suggest that perhaps obsessions and compulsions exist in other disorders as well, such as social anxiety disorder (SAD). Second, trauma has mostly been researched in the context of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There has been a long-standing debate on which experiences count as trauma. The definition of trauma in the most recent diagnostic and classification system of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-5) emphasizes threat to life. I will discuss the possibility that there exist other types of threat, in particular, social threat, which involves experiencing severe rejection and humiliation. In that way, the same experience (whether it is a physical attack or being bullied) can involve threat to life or social threat or both types of threat, and play a role in the development of not only PTSD but also SAD and other disorders.