Psychology ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 4-17-2017


Individuals with moderate-to-severe form of OCD symptoms may display exceptional creativity and productivity. This study aimed to define the characteristics of individuals who demonstrate high life achievement/creativity and display clinically significant OC symptomatology. The main hypothesis was that OC phenomena is significantly correlated with high levels of creativity, and that individuals displaying this characteristic will demonstrate a neurocognitive profile similar to subjects with clinical OCD.

We investigated cognitive, intellectual, emotional and clinical characteristics of real-world high-achievers (HAs, n=28) as compared to “standard achievers” (SAs, n=29) by measuring OC symptoms, depressive moods, levels of creativity/flexibility, Verbal and Visual-Spatial Reasoning proficiency and psychometric IQ. Using the clinical cut-off scores for Y-BOCS we identified two groups with highest scores on OC symptoms in High-Achievers and Standard-Achievers, respectively. Between-groups independent samples t-test analysis and within-groups Kendall’s Tau b correlations were performed.

We identified in this study a unique group of individuals, displaying severity of OC symptoms that are clinically significant and demonstrating high scores on the scale of creativity. A valid strong correlative relationship between creativity and OC characteristics emerged readily when OC symptoms reached a higher level of severity and became clinically relevant. The population of the real life high functioning achievers with High OC scores and Hi-Creativity score (we name HFOCD) showed no similarity to the clinical/cognitive profile of subjects with clinical OCD. The results suggest that HFOCD may constitute an entirely unique OC Spectrum population of individuals with etiology and underlying specific brain mechanisms different than in subjects with clinical OCD.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Dr. Kristina Rewin Ciesielski

Second Committee Member

Dr. Jane Ellen Smith

Third Committee Member

Dr. Steve Gangestad




OCD, Creativity, High Functioning, Achievement, HFOCD, High Achievers

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Psychology Commons