Summary: A new study disputes a myth popularized by Freud. Reporting in Neuropsychological Review, researchers say they have found no association between obsessive compulsive disorder and higher IQ.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is not associated with a higher intelligence quotient (IQ), a myth popularized by Sigmund Freud, according to researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), Texas State University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The study, published in the Neuropsychology Review, is believed to be the first analysis of existing data on the link between IQ and OCD sufferers verses the general population. The authors tracked the origins of the myth to the French philosopher, physician and psychologist Pierre Janet in 1903, but it was Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, who popularized the hypothesis in 1909.
“Although this myth was never studied empirically until now, it is still a widely held belief among mental-health professionals, OCD sufferers and the general public,” says Dr. Gideon Anholt, a senior lecturer in BGU’s Department of Psychology.
The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of all the available literature on IQ in OCD samples versus non-psychiatric controls (98 studies), and found that contrary to the prevailing myth, OCD is not associated with superior IQ, but with normative IQ that is slightly lower compared to control samples. The authors suggested that the small reduction in IQ scores in OCD sufferers may be largely attributed to OCD-related slowness and not to intellectual ability.
The popular misconception about OCD has been further promoted by TV programs like “Monk,” which show an individual with OCD using his superior intelligence to solve challenging mysteries. Yet, such beliefs about OCD may facilitate the misconception that there are advantages associated with the disorder, potentially decreasing one’s motivation to seek professional help.
“Future IQ assessments of individuals with OCD should focus on verbal and not performance IQ – a score heavily influenced by slowness,” the researchers say.
Source: Andrew Lavin – AABGU
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Original Research: Abstract for “Meta-Analysis of Intelligence Quotient (IQ) in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder” by Amitai Abramovitch, Gideon Anholt, Sagi Raveh-Gottfried, Naama Hamo, and Jonathan S. Abramowitz in Neuropsychology Review. Published online September 1 2017 doi:10.1007/s11065-017-9358-0
Meta-Analysis of Intelligence Quotient (IQ) in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is associated with a moderate degree of underperformance on cognitive tests, including deficient processing speed. However, despite little research focusing on Intelligence Quotient (IQ) in OCD, it has long been speculated that the disorder is associated with elevated intellectual capacity. The present meta-analytic study was, therefore, conducted to quantitatively summarize the literature on IQ in OCD systematically. We identified 98 studies containing IQ data among individuals with OCD and non-psychiatric comparison groups, and computed 108 effect sizes for Verbal IQ (VIQ, n = 55), Performance IQ (PIQ, n = 13), and Full Scale IQ (FSIQ, n = 40). Across studies, small effect sizes were found for FSIQ and VIQ, and a moderate effect size for PIQ, exemplifying reduced IQ in OCD. However, mean IQ scores across OCD samples were in the normative range. Moderator analyses revealed no significant moderating effect across clinical and demographic indices. We conclude that, although lower than controls, OCD is associated with normative FSIQ and VIQ, and relatively lowered PIQ. These results are discussed in light of neuropsychological research in OCD, and particularly the putative impact of reduced processing speed in this population. Recommendations for utilization of IQ tests in OCD, and directions for future studies are offered.
“Meta-Analysis of Intelligence Quotient (IQ) in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder” by Amitai Abramovitch, Gideon Anholt, Sagi Raveh-Gottfried, Naama Hamo, and Jonathan S. Abramowitz in Neuropsychology Review. Published online September 1 2017 doi:10.1007/s11065-017-9358-0