Week 6: Compulsive Thoughts
In Week 3 we were introduced to the struggle with affect. This involved obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Remember that obsession is described by the DSM-IV as recurrent, persistent ideas, thoughts images or impulses that are not voluntary but relentlessly invades consciousness. Attempts are made to ignore or suppress obsessions. The most common obsessions are thoughts of violence, contamination or doubt in one's actions. Obsessions are a significant sourse of distress and can interfer with an individual's functioning in society.

Frequently obsession is paired with compulsion, an uncontrollable act. This is the desire to act out in a certain way against the conscious will of the individual. Some people joke about being "compulsive shopper" in that they can't help but buy something. While this is typically not a compulsion, it illustrates the idea.

Frequently obsessions and compulsions combine to form obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This disorder is characterized by a combination of repetitive thoughts and uncontrollable acts. The two most common types of OCD are chronic hand washers and "checkers," individuals who continually check things in a highly structured way.

Our story is a classic you probably read during your sophomore year, The Scarlet Letter. Reverand Dimmesdale is the main character who suffers from obsessive thoughts and attempts to control compulsive actions. The DSM-IV outlines the following symptoms for someone to be diagnosed with OCD:
  • recurrent, persistent ideas, thoughts, images or impulses that are not voluntary
  • attempts are made to suppress or ignore obsessions
  • great source of distress
  • interference with social functioning
  • impairment is moderate to severe

OPTIONAL: Listen to a case study that involves obsessive-complusive disorder and notice, in particular, the obsessions, or uncontrollable thoughts, of the patient. Read through all the following instructions before proceeding to the taped case study.

This case study gives you a little insight into the nature of obsessions.

Next, we get to our reading passage.

    1. Hawthorne writes about the deacon, "Never was there a more beautiful example of how the majesty of age and widsom may comport with the obeisance and respect enjoined upon it, as from a lower social rank and inferior order of endowment, towards a higher." From this passage how does Reverend Dimmesdale view both the deacon and himself?
    2. What "blasphemous" suggestion did Dimmesdale want to utter in his conversation with the deacon?
    3. What was Dimmesdale's reaction when this desire crossed his mind?
    4. What was Reverend Dimmesdale's compulsive thought when he was speaking to the eldest female member of his church?
    5. What did Dimmesdale want to say to the young girl who was coming up to him as he walked from church? What did Dimmesdale do regarding this thought?
    6. What was Revernd Dimmesdale's compulsive thought when he saw "a know of little Purican children playing?"
    7. To what extent does Reverend Dimmesdale meet the criteria of OCD?

    When you've finished paste your work into an e-mail titled "Week 6 Homework." Then e-mail your work to me at aeaptl@gmail.com.

Week 6 homework is to be completed by 3:00 pm
Monday, March 30
for full credit. It will accepted after that date for half credit.

When e-mailing your work, be sure to paste your work INTO your e-mail.
Do NOT include your work as an attachment.

This is a reminder the midterm exam is Monday, March 30
at 3:30 pm in room 146/101 at LHHS.
Lesson Copyright ©2009 Clay Sisman