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Compulsive Hoarding | OCD | Progress Report

Heritability of OCD symptom subtypes

A new study conducted by our group in collaboration with other US, European, and South African sites has confirmed that there are five major symptom subtypes of OCD, including contamination/cleaning, taboo (sexual, religious, and aggressive obsessions), doubts (fears of causing harm and frequent checking), hoarding/symmetry, and rituals/superstitions. Although any given individual with OCD probably has symptoms from many of these subgroups, the specific symptom profiles are heritable, that is, they run in families.  This study also found evidence that OCD severity and overall lifetime number of symptoms were heritable. Taken together, this study suggests that there is an underlying genetic susceptibility to OCD that runs in families, and that specific symptom types may have some genetic causes that overlap with that underlying OCD susceptibility and some genetic causes that are distinct. This study is currently in press in Behavior Genetics (H Katerberg, first author).