Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, and Hypochondriasis: Three Variations on a Theme

Stephen C. Josephson, Eric Hollander, Brian Fallon, Dan J. Stein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Exaggerated illness and appearance concerns and related compulsive behaviors are seen in the psychiatric disorders of hypochondriasis (HYP), body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It has been argued that these conditions may cluster in clinical samples and that our current categorical diagnostic policies, which assume independence of these disorders, are arbitrary and fail to capture the dimensional nature of these disorders. We present retrospective clinical data on 21 randomly selected patients who presented with symptoms that involved anxiety about illness and appearance and who were evaluated for cognitive-behavioral treatment or pharmacotherapy. We also review the symptoms, associated features, and response to treatment of three patients from the sample who were each diagnosed with all three of these disorders (HYP, BDD, and OCD). Three patients met criteria for HYP, BDD, and OCD, and the other 18 patients met criteria for at least two of the above conditions. The most frequently reported source of anxiety had to do with one's hair. Nine out of the 12 patients treated with behavioral therapy were considered to be responders, and the one treated solely with medication was “very much improved.” Of the eight treated with a combination of behavioral therapy and medication, five were judged to be responders. Overlap in phenomenology, associated features, and treatment response suggests that these three disorders may be difficult to distinguish from each other and that a “cluster analysis” model may prove helpful in evaluating clinical samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-31
Number of pages8
JournalCNS spectrums
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, and Hypochondriasis: Three Variations on a Theme'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this