Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is not associated with a higher intelligence quotient (IQ), a myth popularized modern psychologists , 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 versus the general population.
“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 view, 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.
“Future IQ assessments of individuals with OCD should focus on verbal and not performance IQ – a score heavily influenced by slowness,” the researchers say.
The research team also included Dr. Amitai Abromovich, Texas State University; Sagi Raveh-Gottfried, psychology department, BGU; Dr. Jonathan S. Abramowitz, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Naama Hamo, Ruppin Academic Center, Israel.