Judit Szalai
Eotvos Lorand University of Sciences
The dominant philosophical conceptions of obsessive-compulsive behavior present its subject as having a deficiency, usually characterized as volitional, due to which she lacks control and choice in acting. Compulsions (mental or physical) tend to be treated in isolation from the obsessive thoughts that give rise to them. I offer a different picture of compulsive action, one that is, I believe, more faithful to clinical reality. The clue to (most) obsessive-compulsive behavior seems to be the way obsessive thoughts, which are grounded in an irrational cognitive style in matters of risk, danger, and responsibility, motivate compulsions through bizarre means–end reasoning. I show that the patient with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is not weak and passive with regard to the compulsive act; rather, the act is voluntary and regarded by the patient as an instrument of control. I also defend the idea that OCD-related cognitions are either beliefs or mental states with relevantly similar functional roles.
Keywords obsessive-compulsive disorder  freedom  responsibility  control  agency  cognitive  compulsion
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DOI 10.1353/ppp.2016.0001
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