Published online Feb 19, 2021. doi: 10.5498/wjp.v11.i2.50
Peer-review started: September 17, 2020
First decision: December 1, 2020
Revised: December 13, 2020
Accepted: December 27, 2020
Article in press: December 27, 2020
Published online: February 19, 2021
According to a dimensional approach, personality disorders can be considered “a quantitative” variation of personality traits within a continuum between normality and psychopathology. In this sense, some manifestations such as orderliness and cleanliness in obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) subjects do not necessarily represent a maladaptive variant. Psychic euosmia (PE) is a positive aspect of OCPD that was recently described as a psychological predisposition for which pleasant smells elicit an immediate sense of pleasure, order and calmness in OCPD.
Few studies have focused on positive aspects of OCPD. In the absence of other scientific observations, our group decided to investigate the presence of this phenomenon among OCPD patients and subsequently how PE ought to be considered.
We delineate three possible hypotheses: PE is a manifestation of orderliness, is a just right component, or is the counterpart of disgust that has been associated to contamination and moral purity. In this study we tried to verify this last interpre-tation.
The sample consisted of 129 subjects: 45 patients affected by OCPD and 84 healthy controls. To explore the presence of OCPD in both groups we submitted self-report Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-5 Screening Personality Questionnaire to which we added an additional question to investigate the presence of PE. All participants completed the Disgust Scale Revised to evaluate the disgust sensitivity. We used the Italian version of the Disgust Scale Revised.
Regarding the presence of PE, a significant difference was found between groups in how they answered the corresponding item during the interview. Among the 45 study subjects with OCPD, 36 (80%) were positive. While among 84 HC, only 36 (42.9%) were positive. Interestingly no differences were observed between groups in the mean score at the Disgust Scale.
Results suggest that PE might be part of the clinical spectrum of OCPD, and it does not reflect the counterpart of disgust. In our study, PE is over-represented among OCPD subjects. This supports an association, and one might speculate that PE is related to orderliness and cleanliness in this population.
To the best of our knowledge, this is the first case-control study on PE. There is need for additional research to better understand PE and its significance in OCPD.