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Behavioural Neurology
Volume 5, Issue 1, Pages 3-10

Obsessive–Compulsive Symptoms in Neurologic Disease: A Review

M. S. George, J. A. Melvin, and C. H. Kellner

Departments of Neurology, and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, 171 Ashley Avenue, Charleston, SC 29425-0742, USA

Copyright © 1992 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is an increasingly recognized disorder with a prevalence of 2–3% (Robins et al., 1984). Once thought to be psychodynamic in origin, OCD is now generally recognized as having a neurobiological cause. Although the exact pathophysiology of OCD in its pure form remains unknown, there are numerous reports of obsessive–compulsive symptoms arising in the setting of known neurological disease. In this paper, we review the reported cases of obsessive–compulsive symptoms associated with neurologic diseases and outline the known facts about the underlying neurobiology of OCD. Finally, we synthesize these findings into a proposed theory of the pathophysiology of OCD, in both its pure form and when it accompanies other neurological illness.