A new published study has highlighted how the media influences opinion on emotive issues. The study undertaken by the University of Sydney was carried out to investigate whether climate change had any impact on the nature of the obsessions or compulsions experienced by sufferers of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – OCD
The study takes reference from a 1994 study which found that some children developed obsessive thoughts about Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome – HIV/Aids – once media reports on the virus became common place.
“We suggest that mental health professionals need to be aware of, and assess for the presence of such concerns” the study recommended.
This latest study has found that many patients suffering with OCD are worrying about the effects of climate change and global warming. Dr Mairwen Jones and her co-authors looked at 50 patients attending an anxiety disorders clinic.
They found one-third of the patients had anxiety about the effects of climate change. The most common concerns were wasting water, gas and electricity, often leading to an obsessive checking to make sure utilities and appliances were switched off ::::
“2 of the 50 patients were concerned that global warming and increased air temperatures would result in rapid evaporation of the water from their pets bowl. While another patient had concerns that global warming was causing floors to crack.“
Broadly, the result is that 28 per cent of the patients studied suffered from Anthropogenic Global Warming Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - AGWOCD. These patients were, among other things, checking their appliances “to reduce global warming. Researchers say while these behaviours are common in obsessive compulsive disorder, the rationale was unique. They said they were checking appliances to reduce their global footprint. Researchers say theirs is the first study on the impact of climate change in patients with obsessive compulsive disorder.
In conclusion the authors wrote that their findings demonstrate that the types of obsessions and compulsions experienced by 28% of our sample were directly aligned with the current issue of climate change and the perceived dangers associated with this phenomenon.
The study is published in this months Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry.