Someone who suffers from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder suffers from recurring irrational, intrusive thoughts which they are unable to dispel with logical thinking or simple reason. These thoughts, or obsessions, can occur incredibly frequently and can cause great anxiety and unhappiness. Often a patient will not be able to get the thought “out of his/her head”. To deal with these invasive thoughts, patients may engage in repetitive rituals, or compulsions, to reduce the anxiety they are feeling. Some common rituals include hand washing, counting, and checking but compulsive rituals can take many shapes and forms. They can also be highly debilitating, and patients suffering from OCD may spend many hours every day performing these rituals in an attempt to keep their anxiety in check. Not all sufferers engage in rituals – in some cases the condition consists only of intrusive, worrying rumination about one or two particular concerns. Worry, a feature of many anxiety disorders, is very common in OCD.
Professor Menzies has extensive experience in the treatment of aggressive and sexual obsessions. Aggressive obsessions are marked by the fear of physically harming oneself or others (eg. stabbing, punching, driving into people). The dominant forms of sexual obsessions involve fears about sexual preference (eg. “I think I’m gay”, “I’m going to become a paedophile”). Aggressive and sexual obsessions are common in people with chronic OCD.
Professor Menzies has a particular interest in child, adolescent and adult OCD having led research trials of new CBT treatment procedures for these conditions at the University of Sydney over the last decade. He was one of only two Australian members of the international Obsessive-Compulsive Cognitions Working Group. He was the co-editor of the 2003 international handbook on OCD for the prestigious Wiley Series in Clinical Psychology.
Professor Menzies also specialises in: