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It was the general belief in the 14th and 15th centuries that those who experienced blasphemous, sexual, or other obsessive thoughts were possessed by the devil. Based on this reasoning, treatment involved banishing the evil from the possessed patient through exorcism (Baer, Jenike, and Minichiello, 1968). This idea is no longer widely accepted and advancements in science have allowed many disorders to be better understood in both physiological and psychological terms. However, though more is now known regarding the psychological aspect of obsessions and compulsions, the definitive cause of OCD is still unknown.

In the early 1900s, Freud attributed obsessive-compulsive behavior to unconscious conflicts which manifested as symptoms (Baer, Jenike, and Minichiello, 1968). Even more recently OCD was linked to stressors or traumas that occurred during childhood (bad parenting and family problems, for instance). However, subsequent research into this disorder has provided evidence to support the possibility that OCD is a biological problem.