Learning the futility of the thought suppression enterprise in normal experience and in obsessive compulsive disorder
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Background:The belief that we can control our thoughts is not inevitably adaptive, particularly when it fuels mental control activities that have ironic unintended consequences. The conviction that the mind can and should be controlled can prompt people to suppress unwanted thoughts, and so can set the stage for the intrusive return of those very thoughts. An important question is whether or not these beliefs about the control of thoughts can be reduced experimentally. One possibility is that behavioral experiments aimed at revealing the ironic return of suppressed thoughts might create a lesson that could reduce unrealistic beliefs about the control of thoughts. Aims: The present research assessed the influence of the thought suppression demonstration on beliefs about the control of thoughts in a non-clinical sample, and among individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Method: In Study 1, we assessed the effect of the thought suppression demonstration on beliefs about the control of thoughts among low and high obsessive individuals in the non-clinical population (N= 62). In Study 2, we conducted a similar study with individuals with OCD (N= 29). Results: Results suggest that high obsessive individuals in the non-clinical population are able to learn the futility of suppression through..
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