Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 75 Issue 3 (September 2002), Pages 239-363

A dialogical approach to obsessions (pages 333-348)

Cognitive conceptualizations of obsessions based on the information‐processing metaphor are contrasted with a dialogical approach to understanding obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). The dialogical approach views obsessions as one‐sided conversations. The unit of analysis is the narrative or ‘voice’, which engages the person in the neutralizing behaviour. The dialogical approach accommodates well the apparent paradox that obsessions are both self and other generated, and that people can be positioned differently regarding the senselessness of their obsessions at different times. Also, people themselves characterize their obsessions in dialogical terms as: voice, conversation, or argument. The focus of therapy is the language and power of the narrative rather than discrete cognitive biases or representations, and dialogical therapy emphasizes role‐play and narrative techniques. Cognitive therapy has already shown signs of adopting a narrative turn, and cognitive and dialogical conceptualizations of OCD are alternative perspectives rather than competing explanations.

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