The first symposium entirely dedicated to ROCD [romantic, parent-child, individual-God]

The first symposium entirely dedicated to relationship related obsessions is going to take place at the next Annual EABCT Congress 

CBT: A Road to Hope and Compassion for People in Conflict [August 31- September 3, 2015
Jerusalem, Israel]

Title:  Doubting Love: Investigations into the pathogenesis of relationship obsessions


In recent years, a growing body of literature has focused on obsessive-compulsive symptoms centering on close or intimate relationships (Relationship Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; ROCD). ROCD symptoms are characterized by doubts and preoccupations focused on the perceived suitability of the relationship itself (e.g., the strength of one’s feelings towards the relational partner, the “rightness” of the relationship). ROCD symptoms also pertain to disabling preoccupation with perceived deficits in the relationship partner (e.g., not being intelligent enough). Although these ROCD presentations occur in a variety of close relationships (e.g., parent-child and individual-God), are activated by congruent life events (e.g., relationship breakups) and are associated with specific vulnerabilities (e.g. perfectionism), prior research has mainly investigated ROCD symptoms within romantic relationships. Further, most previous studies have been conducted in Israeli, non-religious cohorts. In the present symposium, data collected in four different countries, across various relational and situational contexts are presented with the aim of advancing our understanding of this increasingly recognized form of OCD.

The first presentation examines the link between parental preoccupation with their children’s deficits, mood and parental stress in American parents (US). The second presentation investigates ROCD symptoms following a particularly relevant life stressor — relationship breakups. In this study, associations between ROCD symptoms, relationship stress and intrusive thoughts are explored. In the third presentation, data from Israeli orthodox and ultra-orthodox cohorts is used to examine the unique involvement of obsessive symptoms relating to one’s relationship with God in negative mood, scrupulosity and OCD symptoms. Finally, the contribution of particular aspects of perfectionism to ROCD within romantic relationships is assessed within an Italian cohort. Together this research suggests that ROCD symptoms may have significant impact on personal and interpersonal variables within different relational, situational and cultural contexts.

Title:    I obsess about my child’s flaws: Impact and correlates of parent-child obsessive-         compulsive symptoms

Presenter: Guy Doron, PhD, Baruch Ivcher School of Psychology Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya

Co-Presenters:  Ohad Szepsenwol, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota,     Minneapolis, MN 55455  and Danny Derby, Cognetica – The Israeli Center for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Tel-Aviv

Parents often report that their children’s happiness and success is one of their most important life endeavor. For some individuals, however, this endeavor may be associated with increased fears and preoccupation relating to perceived deficits in their children’s behaviors, personality, and appearance. Such preoccupations may become increasingly time consuming, distressing, and a cause of significant parental distress. Following recent research of relationship-related OC phenomena, in this study we investigated OC symptoms focusing relating to parental preoccupation with their children’s perceived flaws and deficits. Four hundred and three (187 mothers) completed the Parent-Child Related Obsessive Compulsive Inventory (P-CROCI), an adapted version of the partner related obsessive-compulsive inventory (PROCSI, Doron et la., 2012).  We examined links between parent-child OC phenomena, parental OCD symptoms and pre-existing parental mood symptoms. We also examined the incremental contribution of the P-CROCI to the prediction of parental stress beyond the contribution of pre-existing mood and OCD symptoms. We found significant positive correlations between parent child OC symptoms and measures of parental OCD and mood. In addition, the P-CROCI significantly predicted parental stress over and above parental mood and other OC symptoms. Our preliminary investigation of parent-child OC phenomena has the potential to increase research and clinical awareness of patients with such clinical presentations. Interventions for such phenomena may draw on OCD and relationship OCD treatment literature.


Title:  Obsessing About Love: How Relationship OC Tendencies Affects Romantic Breakup in Young Canadian Adults

Presenter:        David A. Clark, University of New Brunswick, CANADA

Co-Presenters:  Lucia O’Sullivan and Rice Fuller, University of New Brunswick  CANADA

Relationship obsessive compulsive disorder (ROCD) is characterized by preoccupations and doubts about one’s love and commitment towards a romantic partner, the partner’s love and commitment toward the individual, and the person’s sense of “rightness” about the relationship (Doron, Derby & Szepsenwol, 2014).  Recent studies indicate that ROCD may be a distinct form of OCD, which is detrimental to intimate relationships and personal well-being (Doron, Derby, Szepsenwol & Talmor, 2012).  However no studies have investigated the effects of ROCD in the context of romantic breakup, which might be an important stressor for individuals struggling with doubts about love and acceptance.  In the present study 101 Canadian undergraduates who experienced a significant romantic breakup in the last three months completed an online battery of measures that assessed past relationship characteristics, self-esteem, depressive symptoms, breakup distress, coping strategies and unwanted intrusive thoughts.  In addition all participants completed the 12 item Relationship Obsessive Compulsive Inventory (ROCI; Doron et al., 2012).  A series of standard regression analyses revealed that obsessive doubts about whether the ex-partner loved him or her was a significant unique predictor of breakup distress, unwanted intrusive thoughts about the ex-partner and depressive symptoms.  Further analyses will be conducted to determine whether the greater difficulty with a breakup by individuals with excessive doubts about the ex-partner’s love and commitment is mediated by pre-existing self-esteem, pessimism or coping strategies.  At the very least, this study indicates that in addition to relationship quality and personal well-being, ROCD may also be detrimental to coping with romantic breakup in young adults.


Title: Relationship obsession within the individual-God context: Exploring obsessive tendencies about one’s relationship with God

Presenter:        Yaniv Efrati, 1School of Psychology, Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Herzliya , ISRAEL

Co-Presenters:  Guy Doron, PhD, School of Psychology, Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) and

Ohad Szepsenwol, Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota,      Minneapolis, MN 55455

Research of relationship-centered obsessive compulsive symptoms has mainly focused on romantic relationships.  Theoretically, however, relationship obsession may occur within a variety of relationships perceived as significant to the individual. In fact, clinical experience suggests relationship obsessions may also occur within the individual-God context.  Indeed, one’s personal relationship with God is considered a core element of monotheistic religions such as Christianity and Judaism. Research of religious obsessive-compulsive (OC), however, has mainly focused on scrupulosity — persistent doubts about sin, intrusive mental images of a sacrilegious or blasphemous nature, and fears that one will be punished by God.  Following recent research of relationship-related OC phenomena, the present study reports on the development and evaluation of the Relationship with God Obsessive Compulsive Inventory (R-GOCI). Two hundred and fifty religious Jews and one hundred and fifty ultra-religious Jews completed the R-GOCI, a 10-item measure assessing the severity of OC symptoms centering on the individual’s feelings towards his or her God and the “rightness” of the relationship experience as well as obsessions relating to religious observance. Factor analysis supports a 2-factor structure of the R-GOCI above alternative measurement models. The R-GOCI (Study 1) was found to be internally consistent and showed the expected associations with OCD related symptoms and cognitions, mood and relationship variables (Study 2). Our preliminary investigation of relationship-with-God OC phenomena has the potential to increase research and clinical awareness of patients with such clinical presentations thereby reducing misdiagnosis of this disabling phenomena. Interventions for such phenomena may draw on OCD and relationship OCD treatment literature.


Title: The role of perfectionism in relationship obsessive-compulsive disorder (ROCD)

Presenter:        Gabriele Melli, Institute of Behavioral and Cognitive Psychology and Psychotherapy, IPSICO, Florence, Italy

Co-Presenters:  Claudia Carraresi, Institute of Behavioral and Cognitive Psychology and

Psychotherapy, IPSICO, Florence, Italy  and Guy Doron School of Psychology, Interdisciplinary Center (IDC)

Recently, research has begun to investigate relationship obsessive-compulsive disorder (ROCD). ROCD symptoms involve obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms including doubts, preoccupations and reassurance seeking centering on one’s feelings towards the partner and the ‘rightness’ of the relationships. ROCD symptoms involve cognitive beliefs and biases similar to those underlying other OCD phenomena. Some dysfunctional OCD related processes, however, may be more pertinent to the relational OCD theme. In particular, perfectionism has been suggested to have an important role in ROCD symptoms that needs further investigation. The present study aimed to explore the unique role of perfectionist beliefs in ROCD. The Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale (MPS) was administered to 187 Italian non-clinical participants together with a series of self-report measures assessing OCD, ROCD, and general distress. Correlation analysis showed that perfectionism, in particular the Concern over Mistakes (CM) subscale of the MPS, was strongly associated with ROCD symptoms. Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that CM was a significant predictor of relational OCD symptoms, also controlling for general distress and OCD symptoms. Limitations as well as theoretical and clinical implications of these findings will be discussed.