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Understanding Religious OCD (Scrupulosity)

Have you ever had any excessive guilt feelings towards God? Or have you ever had recurrent, unwanted thoughts about your religion? If you do, maybe you’re having religious obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Religious OCD (Scrupulosity)

It is normal for a lot of professionals such as nurses, doctors, accountants and even religious people to exhibit some obsessive-compulsive traits because they want to avoid making mistakes in doing their task-oriented jobs. On the other hand, people with obsessive-compulsive disorder are preoccupied with orderliness and perfectionism, and are overly devoted to their work and productivity.

In the aforementioned statement, religious obsessive-compulsive disorder or commonly known as Scrupulosity is a psychiatric disorder in which a person has a religious obsession in pleasing God. Often, individuals with this kind of disorder engage themselves in too much praying or seeking God’s presence far beyond from what normal individuals do, to the extent that they impair their day-to-day activities.

Furthermore, scruples are usually too sensitive in determining a matter as right or wrong. Every time they have done something doubtful, it is as if their conscience is haunting them down and it frequently results to having excessive obsessions with this.

Research showed that certain individuals with religious obsessive-compulsive disorder tend to worry that they might do something blasphemous or anything that could disrespect God. Moreover, scrupulosity is often referred to as the pathological doubt, since they over do something which they are doubtful of.

Most scruples fear that they may commit a sin to God. They never feel at ease whenever they did something wrong. They usually seek for God’s forgiveness but are still uncertain or unsatisfied if God has really forgiven what they had done.

Take this for instance, when a person commits a mistake, and he knows that it is against the will of God, he will obsessively think of how to overcome it. He then tries to contemplate and repent, over and over again, and the more the guilt feeling he feels inside, the more uncertain he is about it.

Up until now, there is no known cause of this said disorder. Others might be just thinking that this is just a normal matter for people who are really devoted to God. But in some researches, one cause of scrupulosity is the lack of love for oneself. In reality, they say that God loves us and therefore will forgive all our sins. It is up to a person on what he should do about it, but all God wants the people to do is to accept their mistakes and learn from it. And that’s what scruples lack; the lack of acceptance and self-love.

In addition to the cause of religious OCD are the genetic and environmental factors. These aforementioned causes are the most common factors that may lead to any psychiatric disorders, including scrupulosity.

Above all, scrupulosity, just like other OCDs are treatable. According to research, most individuals with religious OCD can be treated with a psychological therapy, specifically the ERP (exposure and response prevention), a form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Nevertheless, pharmacologic interventions are still part in the line of treatment of patients with this kind of OCD.


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