OCD Center of Los Angeles California
OCD Center of Los Angeles

Scrupulosity: Where OCD Meets Religion, Faith, and Belief

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013 Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)


Many people mistakenly think of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) solely as a condition in which people wash their hands excessively or check door locks repeatedly.  There are actually many sub-types of OCD.  In this ongoing series, Kevin Foss, MA of the OCD Center of Los Angeles discusses Scrupulosity, in which an individual’s OCD focuses on issues of religion, morals, and ethics. Part one of a four-part series.

Those with Scrupulosity experience profound feelings of guilt and anxiety related to religion, morals, and ethics

One of the first documented references to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) was in a 1691 sermon by Bishop John Moore of Norwich in which he discussed men and women who were overwhelmed with unwanted thoughts, and tormented by feelings of guilt and shame over what he described as “religious melancholy.” Priests had started to notice that some churchgoers were attending confession several times a day, and repeatedly confessing to the same sins and shortcomings that they feared would result in divine judgment and eternal damnation. Their penance and absolution would provide only a fleeting glimpse of peace, and then their fears would come roaring back.

In retrospect, we now know that this obsessive religious fervor is a manifestation of OCD known as Scrupulosity. People of various religions across the world are haunted by feelings of doubt, guilt, and anxiety that torment them by attacking that which they find most dear – their faith. Scrupulosity is a form of OCD in which the sufferer’s primary anxiety is the fear of being guilty of religious, moral, or ethical failure. Those afflicted with Scrupulosity fear that their effort to live according to their spiritual values not only isn’t good enough, but is in direct violation of God.

Why Scrupulosity is Different From Other Forms of OCD

Some variations of OCD, while painful and confusing to those suffering their effects, focus on thoughts that are far removed from the individual’s values, beliefs and character. For example, the teacher with Harm OCD who fears he will somehow become a mass murderer, or the student with Gay OCD (also known as HOCD or Sexual Orientation OCD) who constantly questions her sexual orientation, can at some point recognize that the focus of their obsessions is totally at odds with who they are – with their true values and beliefs.

But this is not so for the scrupulous, as they would argue that there is nothing more central to them, indeed nothing that more clearly defines the main purpose of their life, than their spiritual beliefs and religious practices. For those suffering with Scrupulosity, the content of their thoughts hits painfully close to home. To make things worse, in many religions, challenging the doctrine or body of belief can be viewed as challenging the faith itself and an act of apostasy.

One question that repeatedly comes up when assessing clients for Scrupulosity goes something like this: “How do I know that what I am experiencing is Scrupulosity, and not an actual sin, or lack of faith, or even a demonic attack?”  The answer to this question lies in the client’s intensity of focus on perfectionism. There is a significant difference between feeling convicted in your faith and pursuing your beliefs, as opposed to focusing enormous amounts of time and energy on perfectly following a few specific rules or doctrines, while turning a blind eye to others that may actually be more important.

On the Other Hand…Why Scrupulosity is the Same as Other Forms of OCD

While Scrupulosity may at first appear vastly different from the traditional presentation of OCD, those with religious, moral, and ethical obsessions experience the same Obsessive Compulsive Cycle as others with OCD – obsession, anxiety, compulsion, and relief / reinforcement.

Triggers for Scrupulosity can be any thought, image, feeling, place, person, etc., that cues an obsession. For example, seeing an attractive person at church may result in sexual thoughts, which in turn trigger an obsessive desire to “undo” that thought in an effort to be pure, holy, and clean. If the scrupulous individual upholds an exaggerated belief that lustful thoughts in and of themselves will automatically result in eternal condemnation, the cycle begins.

As in all forms of OCD, the obsessive thoughts in Scrupulosity often take the form of “What if…” questions, such as “what if I just sinned” or “what if I don’t actually believe in God”? In some cases, the thoughts may be somewhat more irrational in nature, such as “what if just by looking at that woman, I accidentally fondled her breasts”? Instead of recognizing the thought for what it is (just a thought), the sufferer responds to it as if it is a fact.

Symptoms of Scrupulosity

Those suffering with Scrupulosity hold strict standards of religious, moral, and ethical perfection. For example, if held in a black and white view, certain passages in the Bible and other religious texts may carry with them intense burdens of condemnation. In holding a strict view of these religious verses, the Scrupulosity sufferer experiences not just intense guilt, but also anxiety about the threat of eternal punishment for having violated religious precepts. Without having chosen to experience these obsessions (OCD thoughts being both intrusive and unwanted), the individual experiencing Scrupulosity feels an overwhelming urge to take whatever compulsive action offers the promise of relief.

Common Obsessions in Scrupulosity

Obsessions may include any thought or mental image that the individual experiences as evidence of religious, moral, or ethical failure, including:

  • Repetitive thoughts about having committed a sin
  • Exaggerated concern with the possibility of having committed blasphemy
  • Excessive fear of having offended God
  • Inordinate focus on religious, moral, and/or ethical perfection
  • Excessive fear of failing to show proper devotion to God
  • Repeated fears of going to hell / eternal damnation
  • Concern that one’s behaviors will doom a loved one to hell
  • Unwanted sexual thoughts about God, Jesus, or a religious figure such as a priest
  • Unwanted mental images such as Satan, 666, hell, sex with Christ, etc.
  • Excessive fear of having acted counter to one’s personal morals, values, or ethics

Common Compulsions in Scrupulosity

For the individual with Scrupulosity, compulsions can be defined as any intentional thought or behavior done in an effort to neutralize or reduce the individual’s sense of guilt, pain, and anxiety. Like all forms of OCD, compulsions in Scrupulosity can be categorized into four types:

  • Overt behavioral compulsions
  • Avoidance behaviors
  • Reassurance seeking behaviors
  • Mental compulsions

For some with Scrupulosity, their compulsion may be to repeatedly confess something they have done or thought. Some may even confess despite not actually having done or thought anything they perceive as being “unacceptable” – basically confessing “just in case”. For others, washing one’s hands or showering several times (or several hundred times!) can be a way to figuratively cleanse the soul. Likewise, avoidances of specific triggers such as places of worship, religious ceremonies, or disciplines is often a compulsive tactic employed in an effort to stave off the possibility of guilt and anxiety. Paradoxically, these efforts almost always increase the unwanted feelings. Just as with any compulsion, the momentary relief gained is enough to reinforce the obsessive thought and continue the OCD cycle.

Common compulsions may include:

  • Repeated and ritualized confessing (to religious figures such as priests, church elders, and/or to friends and family)
  • Reassurance seeking about behaviors and thoughts related to religion, morals, ethics, or values
  • Excessive, ritualized praying and/or reading of the bible or other religious texts
  • Repeating specific verses from the bible or other religious texts (either out loud or silently)
  • Mentally reviewing past acts and/or thoughts in an effort to prove to one’s self that one has not committed a sin or acted in a manner thy construe to be immoral or unethical or counter to one’s faith
  • Ritualized “undoing” behaviors to counteract perceived sins and transgressions
  • Excessive acts of self-sacrifice (i.e., giving away relatively large amounts of money or earthly possessions)
  • Avoidance of situations in which one fears the onset of obsessions related to issues of faith (i.e., church, temple, mosque, prayers, movies with devil themes, dating)
  • Avoidance of certain objects that one associates with immorality or sin (i.e., certain clothes, certain numbers)
  • Making deals with God to avoid eternal damnation (or merely to reduce current anxiety and discomfort)

Treatment of Scrupulosity

Treatment of Scrupulosity can be difficult as it requires sufferers to take a risk by challenging their fears. As with all forms of OCD, the most effective method for treating Scrupulosity is Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, with a strong emphasis on Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). This approach to treatment focuses on three primary techniques:

  • Mindfulness – helping the client learn to willingly accept the existence of unwanted thoughts, without over-reacting to them with compulsive and avoidant behaviors
  • Cognitive Restructuring – in which the client learns to effectively and consistently challenge the accuracy and importance of their unwanted and distorted thoughts.
  • Behavioral Therapy – with an emphasis on Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), a technique in which the client intentionally experiences the anxiety-producing thoughts and situations that trigger their OCD episodes, while not doing any compulsive or avoidant behaviors.  This process can be painful, as it requires the client to feel as if they are doing something sacrilegious or dangerous to their faith. But in the long-term, ERP helps the client to reduce their unwanted compulsive and avoidant responses, and allows them to live their faith freely and with more authenticity.

Scrupulosity Across Religions

It is worth noting that Scrupulosity is not partial to any one religion, but rather custom fits its message of doubt to the specific beliefs and practices of the sufferer. Furthermore, strict adherence to the tenets of various religions may at times actually inhibit the progress of treatment. The following are some examples of how Scrupulosity Mindfulness Workbook for OCDmay manifest in some belief systems, and how treatment may be compromised due to an overly strict interpretation of religious teachings. This is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list, but rather to provide the reader with a basic understanding of how excessively strict adherence to articles of faith can complicate the experience and treatment of Scrupulosity.


Catholicism and Protestant Christianity both share the New Testament messages of purity and adherence to various laws and doctrines that, for many, prove painful and seemingly impossible to abide by in their entirety. For example, in the Gospel According to St. Matthew, verse 5:28, Jesus states, “I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” If we expand this to men and women, gay and straight, the message is that we must never have sexual thoughts for anyone but our spouse, which is all but impossible.


Judaism’s books of law contain 613 individual commandments, and any single law can be a stumbling block for someone with Scrupulosity. Furthermore, Judaism has a strong tradition of being intellectual as well as spiritual in its practice and experience. Many consider arguing over interpretation and posing questions to be part of the process of finding the “true” way of the faith.  As such, accepting ambiguity, which is a core principle of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, may be seen as an affront to the faith itself.


Like many other religions, Islamic theology includes “Shaytan”, a devil character who serves as a “whisperer” of doubting thoughts who encourages men and women to sin. People of all faiths, including Islam, experience intrusive thoughts that make them uncomfortable, and may attempt to suppress these unwanted thoughts. But what pops into our heads is to a great extent out of our control, and attempts at thought suppression are doomed to failure. That said, asking a scrupulous Muslim to allow the words of Shaytan to dwell in their thoughts, or to intentionally approximate some of the whispers, can be construed as an assault on their faith.


Similar to other forms of Christianity, Mormons experience a strong sense of obligation to maintain “purity. The book of Alma, verse 12:14 notes, “Our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us . . . and our thoughts will also condemn us.” Hence, not only is a scrupulous Mormon tirelessly fighting to control their actions, but even their thoughts will “condemn” them. Indeed, our experience with treating Mormon clients has shown that thought suppression can be a significant impediment to progress. Helping a Mormon with Scrupulosity learn to allow and accept the inevitable presence of unwanted thoughts can thus be quite a challenge.

New Age Spirituality

Some believe that eschewing conventional organized religion, and adopting “New Age” practices can help forge a spiritual connection without the requirements or rituals of traditional faiths. But “alternative” spirituality presents its own challenges for those with Scrupulosity. The Secret and other New Age philosophies support “positive thinking” and the “law of attraction” as a way to literally attract wealth and create the life one desires. We have treated numerous clients who are believers of the principles espoused in these philosophies who are simply unwilling to undergo CBT. It is their belief that intentionally creating and experiencing unwanted thoughts will create the very energy by which these thoughts come true.

For those with Scrupulosity, treatment can be delicate. The therapist must create a welcoming and sensitive environment for the scrupulous person to challenge their distorted thoughts, without infringing on the perceived foundation of their religious beliefs. In short, effective therapy must challenge the importance and meaning of specific aspects of their faith for the sake of honoring and preserving their overall belief. Treatment with a psychotherapist who specializes in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for OCD and who understands this balance is critical.  Likewise, educating the therapist on the intricacies of one’s specific faith will help Scrupulosity sufferers to more appropriately challenge their OCD while also feeling confident in their beliefs. Upcoming installments in this series will explore these issues, as well as the specific techniques used in treating Scrupulosity.

To read part two of this series on Scrupulosity in OCD, click here.

To read part three of this series on Scrupulosity in OCD, click here.

Kevin Foss, MFT, is a licensed psychotherapist at the the OCD Center of Los Angeles, a private, outpatient clinic specializing in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for the treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and related conditions.  In addition to individual therapy, the center offers six weekly therapy groups, as well as online therapy, telephone therapy, and intensive outpatient treatment.  To contact the OCD Center of Los Angeles, click here.

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109 Comments to Scrupulosity: Where OCD Meets Religion, Faith, and Belief

  1. I’m a harm OCD suffer (horribly fearful of willfully hurting/killing myself or others) as well as scrupulous one (and I also tend to question whether a thought or action is normal, afraid of being “crazy” or mentally challenged. I sought reassurance from my therapist about these things, but it’s there.)

    It’s unfortunate, but it’s encouraging to know it has a name and isn’t simply a lack of faith or insanity.

    Mine mostly centers around the question of: What if I truly don’t believe? And that evolves to “why don’t you seem to feel moved by [fill in the blank] like others are? What does that mean? Do I have the Holy Spirit? Am I “elect”? The list goes on forever. I suppose that’s the rumination I should stop doing, but it is difficult.

    My whole brain seems wired for OCD, and it tends to land on any topic it can strike hardest with (obsessive fear of wanting to kill myself/others, my faith, my sanity, my competence in life).

    I’m on an SSRI…and I THINK it may help, but I have been on it for years. I’m trying to figure out some exposure or CBT that would help me tackle these issues head-on. I’ve been in therapy since I was 15 for family issues, but then I realized I had OCD. It’s turned mainly into talk sessions, and I do exercises on my own, but I want to get some progress going. Any ideas?

  2. Julie on May 2nd, 2013
  3. Hi Julie,

    Thanks for your comments and interest.

    Experiencing more than one sub-type of OCD is very typical. OCD tends to focus on the thoughts that are the “worst thing” for the individual, and it sounds like thoughts about harm and faith are it for you. The same is true of your obsessions about being “crazy”, which is an extremely common fear in those with OCD). But a “crazy” person is unlikely to know that their thoughts are irrational and excessive. It sounds like you recognize that they are.

    Likewise, the specific unwanted thoughts you mention (“what if I don’t truly believe, etc.) are all very common in Scrupulosity. But seeking reassurance about these thoughts is bound to backfire – you may get some temporary relief, but the thoughts are bound to return (as you have learned). You are more likely to benefit from acknowledging and accepting the “gamble” of faith.

    I am happy to hear that you are eager and attempting exposures on your own, but that is best done with the guidance of an experienced and trained therapist. If (as it sounds), your therapist is just doing talk therapy, then you may need to consider a new therapist, specifically one who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for OCD. This is the treatment approach that has been repeatedly and consistently found by research to be the most effective therapy for OCD. Connecting with a good CBT therapist will help you get the progress you’re seeking.

  4. Kevin Foss, MA on May 7th, 2013
  5. Is it to late for me to seek cbt treatment for OCD, I am 73 years old and been in therapy for a long time but I never had cbt treatment. I feel terribly hopeless.

  6. Louis Tuzzino on May 23rd, 2013
  7. Thank you for your comment Louis. To be direct, it is never too late to receive the right treatment, especially when it comes to OCD. Seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP).

  8. Kevin Foss, MA on May 31st, 2013
  9. Hello Julie and everyone!
    I wanted to say that I have OCD, Scrupulosity as well as some Harm OCD, and washing/checking rituals. Julie I would love to talk with you some time so as to help one another in the journey to complete healing. I know anything is possible with GOD on our side! You spoke of your faith, and I wanted to say that the fact that you continue to seek Jesus proves you DO have faith. I’m trying to get through the OCD Workbook and it is helping. Thank you to the person who wrote this article because it truly helped me a lot! Thank you so much!

  10. Monica on June 3rd, 2013
  11. Monica, thanks for the comment and the kind words. It’s encouraging to know that people are finding this article informative, and most importantly, a catalyst toward recovery. Your comment really highlights how one’s faith can embolden their journey to reclaiming that which OCD is strangling.

  12. Kevin Foss, MA on June 4th, 2013
  13. Thank you so much for this article. I have been researching OCD and bi polar disorders and their effect on spirituality for a paper I am doing as part of a masters degree in counseling. I have personal interest in these areas as they have had an impact on my spiritual journey. What you wrote was very informative and I would be interested to talk to you in more detail about this subject. I am wondering if there are any facebook groups or websites that discuss these issues.

    Thank you again for this article, it is helpful to me as I work through this personally and for my paper.

  14. Jason on June 4th, 2013
  15. Jason, I’m glad this article has been helpful as a resource for your paper. Further information about Scrupulosity is scattered across the internet and published books, typically related to OCD, and can be found through general search engines. I am also open to consultation in-person, over the phone, or via video conferencing.

  16. Kevin Foss, MA on June 5th, 2013
  17. Hi everyone,

    I have been struggling with OCD for 8 years now, at the beginning I had no idea it could be actually a disease but then I researched on it and found out I had OCD. Knowing that all these thoughts and compulsions were not true and it was just the OCD I sort of cured myself. It took me some time and I would not say I was totally cured but I could think rationally and control myself but more importantly I could live ‘normally’, have a peace of mind and feel 99% free!

    However, at the beginning of the year I started losing control again and unfortunately I lost myself into these OCD thoughts again and started depressing. But, this time I have decided that I will not let OCD ruin me. I took a massive courage after 8 years to tell the people I am closed to about it and seeked medical help.It helps talking about it!

    Yesterday, I had my second session of therapy with the therapist and I felt even worse! It seems that she does not understand me at all and this made it worse because for me she was my HOPE! However, reading this article made me feel so much better and it gives me hope because scrupulosity is an OCD and I am not the only person on Earth suffering from it! It helps reading the other comments and know that some people know how hard it is and these help me to stay positive!

    Kevin, any advice or help is most welcomed!

  18. Lily on June 8th, 2013
  19. I have fear that I don’t accept Jesus as Savior. Or at least, that is my fear right now. I’ll go through the “steps of salvation” and will focus in on a certain part or term. I’m told it’s OCD but I’m not sure. I’ll question if I really believe something. Is this normal? I stay anxious all the time. I think about it all day and worry that if I don’t get it settled then I will go to hell when I die. It seems like I’ll have a moment of clarity and “believe” but then ask myself if that was Jesus speaking to me, or me making it up in my own mind.

  20. Jessica on June 8th, 2013
  21. Lily, it’s wonderful that you are seeking treatment. Part of the beginning stage of therapy is to build a trusting relationship between the two of you, which may also involve some missteps. That said, if you continue to feel that your therapist does not understand you, or does not understand OCD, then it may be worth finding someone else to work with, as the therapeutic relationship is vital to the success of treatment.

    You may consider asking your therapist some direct questions about their understanding of Mindfulness Based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. Have they successfully treated someone with OCD? Have they treated anyone with Scrupulosity? What method of treatment do they employ when treating OCD?

    Your therapist may be wonderful and very capable, but if they are not trained specifically in the treatment of OCD, they may not be a good fit for you. Also, some personalities just don’t match up.

    If treatment at our clinic is an option – either in person or online – you can contact us via our website at http://www.ocdla.com. You are not alone in this process. Keep at it.

  22. Kevin Foss, MA on June 10th, 2013
  23. Jessica,

    Thank you for your comment. Faith can be full of questions and uncertainty, and your comment alludes to the desire for certainty. In faith, you can only know as much as you know, and then are forced to deal with the gap between your knowledge and the fullness of things – which cannot be known!

    Faith is trusting something to be real or accurate without the full evidence. If you had the evidence, it wouldn’t be faith, but objective fact. Connecting with a Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapist who has some experience in managing both OCD and the faith aspect may be helpful in finding some peace in the absence of total evidence.

  24. Kevin Foss, MA on June 10th, 2013
  25. Is it normal to get throbbing headaches after obsessing over one particular thing? I suffer from intrusive thoughts that involve Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Christianity’s unpardonable sin). I spend all night blocking thoughts like, “F*ck the etc,” and “God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit good and pure and not etc…” It’s going to the point where I’m becoming physically ill from the stress. Any recommendations?

  26. James on June 29th, 2013
  27. James, It’s no surprise that your thoughts are focused on “Christianity’s unpardonable sin” as OCD will latch onto each individual’s worst thought or worst case scenario. Since your faith is important to you, these thoughts may seem important to you, even thought they are just thoughts. Remembering that your thoughts dont always reflect your values, wants, or beliefs will free you from the perceived need to resolve them.

    You are free, and encouraged, to question all of your thoughts before responding to them. This can come in the form of saying to yourself, “Wow, that was an odd thought. It doesn’t seem to reflect what I typically think or believe. Oh well.” Notice this doesn’t agree that the thought is right, nor that you are unable to think about it. You can think about all things, but it’s what you do with the thoughts that matters. These are basic mindfulness techniques that could be further tuned with the help of a therapist who is experienced in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

    Working with your thoughts like this, rather than against them, may help you to better tolerate them. In turn, it may have some impact on your headaches and physical health.

  28. Kevin Foss, MA on July 3rd, 2013
  29. I have Ocd and bad thoughts. my mind makesme think i pray followed by awful stuf happening to people i lobve and i really dont mean it. i get scared theyll be answered? I’ve got myself in a bit of a state I walked past this guy preaching in town and he said God doesn’t kill children the devil does – I’m petrified. Now my thoughts are thinking please devil followed by awful stuff which I don’t mean or I’ll worship the devil if …. And I really don’t meant it but my mind OCD is doing it. I now am panicking as what if that guy is right and the devil will answer and make people die. Could this happen can the devil answer thoughts and make things happen?
    Thank you and yet again sorry for bothering you with this I’ve just wound myself up.please could anyone reply and help me thank you

  30. Jane on August 3rd, 2013
  31. Wow, this article is so informative and so spot on!! You basically explained everything there is to know about Scrupulosity. I suffered from this when I was 15 and constantly had horrible thoughts about God that I couldn’t control and kept doubting my religion. I felt awful and was convinced I would go to hell for eternity. I thought I was going crazy then I went into a horrible depressive state and finally broke down and told everything to my mom. She told me that my thoughts were not my thoughts but the devil’s. It made me feel a bit better but I still had the thoughts and it really bothered me. I knew there was something more and that something was not right with me. It wasn’t until a few months later that I found out about the symptoms of OCD and realized I probably had it. I didn’t even know that my OCD had a subtype and a specific name!! When I found out that these thoughts arise from something uncontrollable in the brain (as well as your reaction to everything) it made me feel so much better. I eventually stopped fretting over the horrible thoughts and they went away (not completely, but when they do come I just brush them off). All you have to do is remember you can’t control all your thoughts, the human brain is way too complex for that!! It seems crazy at first but they are indeed just thoughts! Scrupulosity happens to the most kind-hearted people who only want to do good. Remember you are a good person based on your good actions and true intentions, not your thoughts :)

  32. Maya on August 3rd, 2013
  33. Jane, Thank you for the comment. It’s great that you understand that you have OCD and that you experience unwanted intrusive thoughts. Further, knowing that OCD makes people doubt their knowledge or experience can help you begin to challenge these unhelpful and painful thoughts.

    Information taken out of context is great fodder for OCD as it inherently makes someone question the meaning. You may want to ask yourself how this intrusive thought is helpful to you, and if finding the answer will benefit you in any way. Ultimately, remembering it is an unwanted intrusive thought, and that you have OCD, is reason enough to acknowledge the thought, then allow it to go unanswered. You may also want to consider beginning some work with a therapist who specializes in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, if you are not already doing so. It will help you challenge these thoughts so you can get back to your life.

  34. Kevin Foss, MA on August 5th, 2013
  35. Maya, What a wonderful testament to the power of accepting thoughts, and moving past those thoughts which are not beneficial to our life, goals, or values. Thank you for the encouraging comment and supporting those who are in the early stages of their recovery.

  36. Kevin Foss, MA on August 5th, 2013
  37. Hi, This is Chandra and wanted to share my experience and journey of 5 years with Scrupulosity treatment.
    I started feeling it when I was 16, i started worshiping more than required..the Symmetry thing, started feeling that if i will not say ThankYou Lord 5 times, god will not be happy. It gave relief but then it comes again and again, every time I see a God’s photo or pass by a temple or church. Blasphemous Images use to come in my mind, that my legs touched god’s photo hanging on my wall or i touched them in disrespectful way. (It was just a thought/image use to come in my mind). Now start the compulsion thing to overcome these, seeking pardon for this and thousand times a day. Image of God used to come in my mind every 20 mins and i started feeling mental illness. All these started affecting my day to day life, my confidence was at after all time low, any body can go away saying anything to me. I started feeling that i am the worst person on earth, God is angry and how do i make him happy. My family started observing my changed behavior (everybody finished worshiping and i m still in the temple). i started avoiding temples. my father asked me finally whats going on, me and my family was feeling embarrassed with all these. We met a psychiatrist, he given some medicines…. and whoa!!! i improved, my confidence improved… at such a level that i started Stealing in the shop, i thought no body can catch me.. but i overcame the compulsion of repetitive praying. I read Bhagwad Gita where Lord Krishna has said you worship me or not it doesn’t matter, but you must take care of your deeds (Karma). Do good acts, don’t harm innocents, only that’s going to help. Work is worship.
    And after that I started feeling if i worship once or 5 times every hour, god will be happy only with my good works and if i remember him even once a day, that’s enough.

    Now I am 27, i m not completely but 80% cured with medicines and counseling and proper insight of religion.
    I read somebody’s Mom said ‘your thoughts are because of Devil’ that’s simply bad. Believe me this is OCD, God never ask to worship 5 or 10 times a day, or it doesn’t bother him if you sinfully touched his picture in your mind, coz God is above all this, is merciful and is everywhere and nothing is unpardonable for him. What we think in our mind affects us, if you do repetitive actions to overcome something, just start thinking that its a disease and you have to overcome this. With medicines to balance your brain’s chemical composition and practicing Yoga, a strong will develops and one can overcome this OCD.

    Counseling helps a lot, thank you my father who given me all insight of ‘what is religion’ and thank you Lord for telling about what is wrong and what is not in your Book.

  38. Chandra on August 9th, 2013
  39. Chandra, Thanks for the comment. That’s quite a recovery story! It pointed out the progressive nature of the disorder, specifically that it started small with actions you thought/ felt were benefiting your faith, and they may have up until the “get to” became a “have to.”

    It is great to hear that you have found some medication and counseling that is helping you get a handle on these thoughts. The “proper insight of religion” you mention can also be seen as a more moderate or less rigid interpretation of your faith, texts, or dogmas. Maintaining a daily regimen of self care, in addition to your cognitive work, can yield great results. It sounds like you are well on your way to a more beneficial spiritual experience through these changes.

  40. Kevin Foss, MA on August 10th, 2013
  41. Hi, I’ve been suffering of episodes of scrupulosity for years, they lasted for months, the first one was at 16 with fear of having blasphemed, it was a terrible experience, the only thing that stop them was to stop going to the church.

    Years later I return to the church and then another episode of guilt began, mainly feeling that I must apologize to everybody I had offended, then the fears of blasphemy return and it was horrible. Again I stop going to the church leaving me a feeling of guilt and some depression.

    Two years later I got married moved to Spain and these last days I got feelings of guilt because 3 years back in college one teacher passed me an assignment (community service) without having completed. I feel that I must inform my university with the fear that they take my license/title away.

    Sorry for my poor English. I think that your article is very helpful.

  42. Jose on August 12th, 2013
  43. Hi Kevin,

    Yes, u quoted right, i m on the right path to a more beneficial spiritual experience through these changes and also more moderate or less rigid interpretation of my faith. Earlier I was more religious but now I am more spiritual and less religious, thanks to counseling. Now, if such images or guilt comes in my mind, i understand that this is a disease only and my God will not be angry with whatever comes up as images in my mind, b’coz whatever is going on in my mind is simply not in my control. I’m not responsible if my mind thinks that i have committed some sin, when practically I haven’t.

  44. Chandra on August 21st, 2013
  45. Chandra, Sounds great! Keep doing what’s working to maintain that progress.

  46. Kevin Foss, MA on August 21st, 2013
  47. Jose, Thank you for your comment. Your story shows how the obsessions often change over time, and the importance of facing the thoughts head-on rather than avoiding them. I want to encourage you to seek out a therapist who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for OCD. I also encourage you not to contact your university about your alleged failure to fully complete your coursework. This sounds to me like a compulsive response to your Scrupulosity. A better choice would be to accept and live with the uncomfortable thought that you may have inadvertently gained from your teacher’s mistake.

  48. Kevin Foss, MA on August 21st, 2013
  49. ” we shall assure our hearts before him as regards whatever our hearts may condemn us in, because God is greater than our hearts and knows all things.”—1 John 3:19, 20. What does “God is geater than our heart ” mean?.. That God knows us better than we know ourselves! ..& he deffinetly is aware to what point a disorder affects our life.

  50. tresdecopas on August 28th, 2013
  51. hey my name is audy and i just recent became a christian …i suffer from depression and its been hard on me too the point i had thoughts of killing myself and others then it went too having really bad thoughts of sexual thoughts wiith my pastor and the lord its been crazy now i have enxiety attacks and i am on meds for it i keep trying too gwt better and not think and if i think stuff i am at i dont careself cause i am literally going crazy i see a therapist for my emotions and feelings and now i begun taking meds but it is driving me nuts i am literally feel like i am losing my mind here helppp please !!

  52. audy on September 30th, 2013
  53. I am sure this is what I am suffering from.But I cant help but feel a little more hepless. you see my issues were that I was some how going to go against God himself….like satan did. ive had the blasphemous thoughts,fear of going to hell,fear of poking my eyes out,hurting my family,pastor….the list goes on….anyone I love has had a thought or two….my thoughts kept saying give in….your evil….accept hell as your home,worship the evil one. Now im just like do I still believe….now I feel like God has cornered me…which I know what the word says….he made us selflessly to love him and eachother….now I just want to accept Christ again without feeling nervous or forced….I want Christ and to go to Heaven. I feel like im giving in to my pride and thoughts..I just wish I never had my first thought wbich was fear that I could not live for Christ….that happened at the altar….I miss God and how I just depended on him….my thoughts are asking why about God why not you….why does he even have to be anyway….that is the enemy…but I feel like I vant fight….now im depressed….cant be happy cause God gave it….cant do nothing because God did it….WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!??????? Never in my life would I say that….but I am now…and am tired of fighting!!!!!Jesus erase my mind!

  54. brittany brown on October 2nd, 2013
  55. Great post tresdecopas. Remembering that can be encouraging to those going through treatment for Scrupulosity, especially for the exposure aspect. If God understands what you are going through, and knows the purpose of your action, then it opens one up to accepting the fear and doing it anyway!

  56. Kevin Foss on October 2nd, 2013
  57. Mr. Tuzzino, I just want you to know that I love you and God loves you. You are NEVER EVER too old! I will be praying!

  58. Cole Hillman on October 2nd, 2013
  59. thanks so much for everyones thoughts on this subject,I have been diagnosed with religious ocd and bipolar disorder,suffered from 1990 to the present,have made some progress and I still go to counseling with a baptist minister that knows about the disorder and is very understanding towards me,just seeing your thoughts has given me great comfort and the Lord is always with me too to encourage me in not giving up there is a song by albertina walker (a black gospel singer) called I’m still here,I encourage u to go listen to the words it is very encouraging ,God spoke to me in this song about being kept by His Love that is greater than our disorder……hope everyone on here is encouraged to keep on working on themselves and helping others too….luv u all

  60. mary on October 3rd, 2013
  61. I have 2 question: With scrupolosity does the person recognize there tthoughts as irrational like w other ocd subtypes? & What if the person does nt carry out any compulsions bc they are too lazy to thnk about it..does this jst mean they are lacking faith lik a person w out scrupolosity ocd?

  62. tresdecopas on October 6th, 2013
  63. Thank you so much for this article. I am 54 years old and have suffered with Scrupulosity for as long as I can remember. I was diagnosed with OCD when I was 45 but it wasn’t until this past year that I read about Scrupulosity. Everything I have read talks about CBT which is terrifying to me. However, after reading your article and the posts of fellow suffers, I see that I am not alone and that others are able to talk about their obsessive thoughts and maybe I can, too.

  64. Janet on October 12th, 2013
  65. Mary,

    Your comments are a great reminder to everyone that they can find inspiration almost anywhere to keep pushing through their discomfort. For those starting out in their recovery, a step that is often more difficult is to focus on the basis of their true faith, rather than just the trappings of ritualized compulsion. Focusing on one’s true faith can be very helpful when overwhelmed by scrupulous thoughts.

  66. Kevin Foss, MA on October 15th, 2013
  67. Tresdecopas,

    Like with other types of OCD, Scrupulous thoughts can be recognized as irrational. However, when they come to our attention, their irrationality is often clouded with doubt and exaggerated importance.

    By practicing Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, one can become more skilled at identifying irrational, unwanted thoughts by their trademark “this needs to be done now, or else” impact.

    It is crucial to remember that giving in to the compulsion is not a direct reflection of faith or lack of faith, but an unwillingness to feel the discomfort of the perceived consequences of the intrusive thought. Perhaps I am unclear about what you mean by “lazy”, but not giving in to the compulsion and disregarding the intrusive thought is part of the goal in treatment.

  68. Kevin Foss, MA on October 15th, 2013
  69. Janet, Thank you for the comment. I’m glad you find some encouragement through this article and the comments from fellow readers.

    While Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can sound overwhelming, remember that at its core it asks you to question if your thoughts are 100% accurate, and if there might be other more realistic ways to view your thoughts, yourself, and the world. And if so, are you then willing to do something different in response.

    Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) often unnecessarily terrifies people. If your goal is run a marathon, you wouldn’t start your first exercise with a 26.2 mile run, but you’d get of the couch and walk down the block. The next day, perhaps you’d go just a bit further, then jog, and so on. Working with a therapist skilled in CBT and ERP is vital to seeing your recovery as a progressive upward slope, and not like climb over Mt. Everest.

  70. Kevin Foss, MA on October 15th, 2013
  71. Hi my name is Nicholas,experiencing thoughts right now,one is sexual images about God,Jesus and other religious persons.As you all said,i also feel depressed and thought i can stop it if i does not think about god and jesus or i try not to see any of their images in my house,But unfortunately i couldn’t,i ask myself why i want to do that.I don’t want to loose my faith and i want to portray it.I was sad and depressed,whenever i speak to my girl fren i could not concentrate on our relationship,i told her my problem.She was upset and cried for me.I felt sad because of me my girl fren also sad.So i decided although i could be sent to hell or what,i want to live a happy life to keep my girl fren happy.I surrender to god all the time and i prayed faithfully.I ask god to forgive me and take away all the unrighteousness from me,for two days i make my self a little bit busy and forgot everything and was feeling well the next day but it continue again when another fear in me developed when i new one of my fren who slept with a prostitute in thailand and after two weeks he tell me the story and we went to watch movie together and share pop corn.Where im scared there would be any possible transmission of HIV from him.It all weakened all the confidence i had and now continue having the Scrupulous thoughts and words in mind again.Hope to forget it when i enter the working life because i would feel comfortable when i go out with my friends or go out anywhere.I truly and faithfully trust that Jesus will save me and give me salvation.He is faithful and just forgive us our sins.The only hope we have is jesus who will pour his divine mercy on us and redeem us.Please reside the divine mercy novena and prayer.It is JESUS’es unlimited mercy which will pour from his heart to save us poor sinners.That’s the last hope for who ever believes in him.

  72. Nicholas on October 23rd, 2013
  73. Audy, it sounds like you are taking the right steps by being in therapy and beginning medication to treat these thoughts. You share the same pain that a lot of people feel when they begin therapy. Continuing in therapy with a treatment provider who understands that these thoughts are just thoughts should help you see the light at the end of the tunnel.

  74. Kevin Foss, MA on October 23rd, 2013
  75. Brittany, Thank you for your comment. The trap that people get caught in with OCD can be seen in the motivation behind their actions. Following through on religious acts ought to be done out of a desire to move TOWARD God, rather than just moving AWAY FROM anxiety. The same goes for a washer/ checker – are they washing because they truly want to be clean or only because they want to avoid feeling anxiety.

    Working with a therapist trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Exposure and Response Prevention, you can work to challenge those thoughts and habituate to the discomfort they cause. Once your are able to peacefully co-exist with the thoughts, you can make a conscious decision whether your previously compulsive actions truly reflect your goals and values, or if they were merely done to avoid discomfort.

    I hope you have connected with someone you trust and are making progress toward getting your life back.

  76. Kevin Foss, MA on October 23rd, 2013
  77. Hi,

    Phew, I am not alone wrestling with my thoughts. For me all of this began with a “mild” psychosis. I studied a lot of math and physics when it suddenly hit me “Where does everything come from” in my mind I could not get the universe to work without God. And so I started reading the bible (on my own, which wasn´t a good idea) In around this time I had thought about hurting loved one´s and friends. I also remember having fear of knives and sharp objects because I saw images in my mind hurting my parents. Anyhow for me the obsessions where that i must keep my mind Holy that is not to think blasphemous thoughts, and so I read the new testament also on my own and got stuck with blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This was in 96 and i still have difficulties with unholy thoughts that from time to time give me anxiety attacks, the three first years were the worst I must say. I used to sleep a lot back then to escape my minds never ending chanting. I had constant headaches for these years and also had a lot of other frightening experiences like Sleep paralysis and “out of body” experiences during sleep. However in 2000 I studied health care and recognized my symptoms from psychology class and got my self medicated with SSRI medicine. It worked quite well for me, understanding my sickness helped me a lot to, now I´ve read most of C.G.Jungs works and some Freud and others. I´ve also gone to a psychologist to talk about my problems and it also helped a bit. Also my life got better since I got a job and found something else to do than being haunted by my thoughts.

    I have also felt healed at times by God, it felt as if I was touched by warm calming hands on my head and all my head pains are gone since many years now! have never ever had the same type of headaches since then!

  78. Richard on November 5th, 2013
  79. Hi my name is Gareth and i am 20 years old and have been dealing with psychosis and ocd since i was 13 and i believe it was triggered by guilt. Your article makes sense to me because i keep ruminating about god, religion, spiritualism and each time i reach a conclusion that helps me deal with everything like one day i will believe in god and it makes everything better and give me meaning and sense and in about the space of a week i start questioning it and it stops giving me comfort and i will move on to for example athiesm( believing that it dosnt matter anyway because i will be dead)nothing works and these thoughts consume me. Do you have any advice or ways of dealing with this that dosnt involve therapy( i am seeing one and it isnt helping) thanks

  80. Gareth on November 7th, 2013
  81. Thanks for the comment Nicholas. Your comment highlights how avoidance used in the pursuit of reducing anxiety does not prove effective in the long run, and ultimately pulls you away from your main goal of building a better spiritual life. Allowing yourself to experience your feared thoughts by recognizing they are just thoughts, while stopping compulsive behaviors (including avoidance), will help you break the OCD cycle.

    It sounds like your faith is important to you, and in order to progress in your struggle with OCD, you will need to challenge your unwanted thoughts and do things that may feel uncomfortable. I highly encourage talking to a therapist who knows about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). The OCD Workbook is a great resource that outlines a basic treatment plan for Scrupulosity and may be helpful in getting you started in your recovery.

  82. Kevin Foss, MA on November 12th, 2013
  83. Richard, great story! It sounds like you found a path that really worked for your particular thoughts and anxieties. A great deal of people also experience more than one focus of their fears (blasphemy, knives, cleanliness, etc.), but ultimately it’s the same cycle of anxiety. Keep going in your progress!

  84. Kevin Foss, MA on November 12th, 2013
  85. Gareth, finding a therapist who understands OCD, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Mindfulness techniques, and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is helpful in making progress toward your goals. Page 9 of the OCD Foundation’s “What You Need To Know About OCD” highlights some questions that can be helpful in determining if your therapist truly understands how to effectively treat OCD. Once this is satisfied, finding a therapist with whom you feel comfortable will be very important. The best therapist in the world will not be as effective for you if you feel uncomfortable or don’t have a basic trust in them.

    Being able to tolerate your uncomfortable feelings of guilt will be vital to your recovery. A question worth considering is “what do you believe and value”? Is religion/ spirituality something that enriches your life, or is it a tool for avoiding the discomfort of your thoughts? If your spiritual life is important to you, then I urge you to continue to pursue it despite your discomfort. Life, and your religion, is a “get to”, not a “have to”.

  86. Kevin Foss, MA on November 12th, 2013
  87. I just recently discovered that this is a form of OCD. I remember this started for me at the age of 5. What would trigger it at such a young age? And could this contribute to not having much of a memory of my childhood, which was I think, other than that aspect a happy one.

  88. cynthia on November 13th, 2013
  89. Hi everyone. This is my first time blogging about my illness. I have severe OCD. Out of all the doctors, nurses, therapists, etc., that I’ve talked with, the word scrupulosity was never used. Weeks ago, I found this website and read about scrupulosity. I think I can honestly say this is what I have. I asked my therapist if she would look it up and she did. I told her that scrupulosity describes me. My symptoms started late in 2010. By the summer of 2011 I was very sick. There isn’t any break from this. It is with me constantly. Rob

  90. Rob on November 21st, 2013
  91. I just started suffering this 2 months ago. I have been a born again believer for over 20 years. Out of nowhere I had this thought on the existence of God. Now I live a life of fear, anxiety, and depression. I know that without faith I am going to hell, but how does one with ocd tod themselves of these doubts. All I want in life is to serve God. It’s killing me to think I may have lost that.

  92. robin on November 23rd, 2013
  93. Hi, I have been dealing with intrusive thoughts for the past year. They were all centered around my beliefs in Christianity. At first I thought I was possed or something, which has turned into one of my fears and been the root of many of my intrusive thoughts . After speaking with my pastor about my experiences he told me to see my doctor and told me that it may be physical and not spiritual. I did a little research and found out about ocd and how it can relate to religion. Over the passed year these thoughts have come and gone, sometimes worst than others. Have you dealt with anyone who had the issue of believing that ocd was an attack. Also what have been some of the symptoms of anxiety that other suffers have had behind ocd

  94. Justin on December 1st, 2013
  95. My son (22) has Scrupulosity OCD and suffers every day of his life. He often says he wishes he was never born because he can’t live with the fear of eternal hell anymore. I do not have the knowledge and means to help him in this regard.
    He has studied both the Bible and the Quran.
    Bottom line is, he says he has to make a choice and what if the choice is wrong.
    He looks for facts and is wanting concrete proof of which religion is right. But also admits that he knows you will not find that anywhere.
    The disease is totally debilitating. He had to give up studying at university in February this year and come home because he was in such a bad way.
    For people who don’t understand this disease it is a case of “you are being ridiculous” but to him it is very real and affecting his well being.
    It’s really sad!!
    Do you know of any place in South Africa that would be able to help him?

  96. Varinia on December 10th, 2013
  97. Hi Cynthia,

    Most people have hazy memories of their childhood, especially before age 5. So the vagueness of your memories is likely normal, rather than a result of childhood anxieties.

    Anxiety can start at a young age, and having an anxious and sensitive character may predispose one to developing OCD or other anxiety based disorders. Regardless of how it started or when, the more important question to ask yourself is what are you doing now to manage it? I encourage you to seek out treatment with a therapist specializing in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for OCD.

  98. Kevin Foss, MA on December 11th, 2013
  99. Hi Rob – thanks for your comment.

    Unfortunately, your experience with past therapists is shared by many people, as most mental health treatment providers are completely unaware of Scrupulosity. That said, it’s great to hear that you are seeking treatment. And now that you have some more details about your specific type of OCD, hopefully you can start to work with your therapist to tackle your symptoms using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

  100. Kevin Foss, MA on December 11th, 2013
  101. Hi Robin,

    Thanks for your comment. Right after you expressed doubt about your faith, and the consequences of that doubt, you wrote “All I want is to serve God.” This statement reflects a core belief that drives your intentions and actions, and indicates a lot of faith!

    A life of faith is fraught with doubt, so adding the tenacious doubt of OCD will predictably make things appear even less secure. If you have not already done so, I implore you seek out a therapist who understands OCD, is experienced in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and is willing to work with you in your faith tradition. Often when OCD is present, we expect to see depression, however a therapist will be able to make a referral to a psychiatrist if the depression is becoming a barrier to accepting and challenging these thoughts.

  102. Kevin Foss,MA on December 11th, 2013
  103. Justin, I’m glad to hear that your pastor was discerning enough to refer you to a doctor. Further, you illustrate a wonderful truth about OCD, including Scrupulosity — symptoms come and go. You can expect that at times the thoughts will be worse, and at other times easier, but sticking it out through treatment will help to progressively get a better handle on them.

    I have treated others with Scrupulosity who believe their religious obsessions are an attack. However that should not stop someone from moving forward with treatment using Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. With appropriate direction, you can actually use your faith as a tool with which to fight the OCD thoughts and feelings. I urge your to consult with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD as to how to best implement CBT so that your faith rituals don’t becoming compulsive rituals, thereby undermining the therapy.

    For more information about how anxiety and OCD symptoms, please check out the various articles and blog posts on our website, http://www.ocdla.com.

  104. Kevin Foss, MA on December 11th, 2013
  105. Varinia. I’m sorry to hear of your son’s struggles. These obsessive thoughts can become debilitating if they are allowed to go without treatment or challenge. You are also right about the personal experience of the sufferer. From the outsider’s perspective, it can look many different ways, but the sufferer experiences a “fight or flight” experience to these thoughts, regardless of the thought’s presentation.

    I am unaware of any specific places in South Africa that treat OCD or scrupulosity. We can provide treatment to your son via teleconferencing technology. If he is interested in discussing this further, please ask him to contact us through our website, http://www.ocdla.com.

  106. Kevin Foss, MA on December 11th, 2013
  107. I’m not sure if what I do is ocd or something else. I constantly think about blinking. That my right eye represents heaven and my left means hell. So after I blink, I need to blink again with my right eye so I go to heaven. Now of course, I don’t believe this to be real. I just don’t understand why I still do this obsessive blinking if I don’t believe the reason behind it. am I sinning not because it is a thought/ worry, but because I do rituals or physical things with my eyes that are compulsive with a meaning behind them like I explained?i Would this be a form of ocd.. or something else? Also have you ever heard of anyone doing things like I explained above?? Thank you

  108. chris on December 13th, 2013
  109. I believe I have this. I have these thoughts and things that would be considered blasphemy. I freak out. I can’t stand the thought of blaspheming. They’re repetive. I haven’t done anything to help myself. My stepdad is a preacher and he often tells me that the devil is tempting me to not be so religious..but sometimes I think it’s really me thinking these thoughts and that I really mean them. But I don’t! I believe this is exactly what I have. At least I’m not alone.

  110. Madison on December 27th, 2013
  111. My 10 year old son is suffering from scrupulosity. He’s in therapy using exposure and response, but we are finding it very hard to make him do “bad” things, such as writing something mean about a classmate or sticking his tongue out at his sister. It is causing such stress in our household as he confesses to all 5 of us for reassurance. How do we reconcile making him do things that he would normally get in trouble for and striving to be more like Jesus? It’s just so painful to watch him suffer.

  112. Kim on January 3rd, 2014
  113. Hi Chris,

    One of the marks of OCD is when something in you says you need to do something right now to make you safe even though it doesn’t make any reasonable sense. Your blinking follows the classic OCD cycle – a thought, feeling, urge, or sensation that produces anxiety, followed by doing a mental or physical action to relieve the anxiety.

    Have you connected with a trusted religious leader who could answer your question regarding what is and is not sin related blinking? I am confident that you would find that no sin is being committed in blinking or not blinking. Then you could try blinking however you want despite anxiety. Challenging your compulsive blinking would be a major component of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and I encourage you to find a therapist who specializes in this approach to treatment.

  114. Kevin Foss, MA on January 7th, 2014
  115. Madison,

    I’m happy you found this article, because you are not alone! Have you considered seeking therapy with someone who understands Scrupulosity? A competent therapist can work with you in your religious tradition to help you achieve a fulfilling spiritual connection, rather than one based on doubt. The trapped feeling you are experiencing, and the questioning of your intentions and thoughts, are consistent with OCD. People with Scrupulosity often get unwanted intrusive thoughts because it is taboo with their held beliefs and values. It’s a frustrating side effect of having a human brain.

  116. Kevin Foss, MA on January 7th, 2014
  117. Hi Kim,

    I’m sorry to hear about your family’s struggle. It is wonderful that you sought care for your son so early.

    Scrupulosity can be conceptualized as an irrational hyper-morality in which the sufferer is desperate not to feel anxious about possibly being “bad”. It is important to remember that your son’s compulsive confessing behaviors are motivated not by a desire to be a good person, but by a desire to not feel anxious. Supporting him through his exposures is helping him be an authentically good person on his own. You may want to seek individual support as your son is going through his own therapy. In addition to ongoing therapy, OCDLA offers consultation services for parents, and for those not wanting or needing traditional therapy for themselves. If you are interested in discussing this further, please contact us through our website at http://www.ocdla.com.

  118. Kevin Foss, MA on January 7th, 2014
  119. My mom has this really bad. Just checked out of hospital a few days ago after spending two weeks there, and it came right back. All they did was medication. Do not even think they knew about this form of OCD as they did not even mention it the two weeks she was there. Just adjusted meds etc…
    Is there a place in the MPLS area that specializes in this? She is tormented by this and is melting down again. Thanks

  120. Gary on February 17th, 2014
  121. I obsess over honesty. I think it started with my ex continually calling me a liar and telling me I had mental issues because I lied so much. My mum also hated liars (I believe both to have NPD but neither is diagnosed). I only ever lied to protect myself from these volatile people and I certainly don’t believe myself to be a compulsive liar.

    I don’t believe I’ll go to hell for not being completely honest as I’m not religious but it severely eats at me for with-holding information from my partner. Even if its just the smallest little thing or if its something that’s completely irrelevant that happened in the past before I even met him. I feel like I have to confess to him every bad thing I’ve done. If there is something that I feel I cannot tell him I punish myself and probably will continue to do so to deal with the guilt of holding it in.

  122. Lola on February 24th, 2014
  123. Hi Gary,

    You are correct – chances are that the staff at the hospital had absolutely no idea what to do with your mom. Unfortunately, most mental health care workers do not really understand OCD, and most have never even heard of Scrupulosity. And hospitals are simply not set up to provide meaningful treatment for OCD. Your mom’s experience of just being medicated is the norm, not an exception.

    To get real help, she will need to work with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD. Your best resource for finding such a therapist in Minneapolis is the website of the International OCD Foundation at http://www.ocfoundation.org. They have a searchable database of specialists. Good luck.

  124. Tom Corboy, MFT ~ OCD Center of Los Angeles on February 27th, 2014
  125. Hi Lola,

    Scrupulosity does not always focus on religion – for some people it focuses on matters of morals and ethics. We call that “Moral Scrupulosity”, and it sounds like that is what you are experiencing. We will have a future article specifically about Moral Scrupulosity.

    You are not obligated to confess every little thing, and doing so will only make your OCD worse. Your job is to accept the feelings of discomfort you experience when you want to confess…but to not confess.

  126. Tom Corboy, MFT ~ OCD Center of Los Angeles on February 27th, 2014
  127. I ve been suffering from OCD 10 years now…I ve had my ups and downs… and when I seem to have put under control one aspect of OCD , other pops in my head- now I am in the phase of facing Scrupolosity more than I did ever before. It’s like they never stop… like I have set my brain to think that it cant go on without compulsions and overthinking. I am perfectionist by nature and that’s what probably ruins me the most. However lately I ve been obsessing with a dream I ve had.. I was dreaming my late friend and it was not a plesent dream… now i have a dillema if i should share it- but if i do i fear something bad might happen.. and if i dont- i fear that i might be ignoring any message that it could bring… I am torn apart…any answer would do… Thanks for reading

  128. Nick on February 28th, 2014
  129. I don’t know if this is scrupulosity or not. Last year, I have been having thoughts where my mind is telling that I should abandon my religion in order to be happy, I wont enjoy heaven. But clearly it is making me depressed. I don’t want to abandon my religion – before this whole incident I was so happy being myself (proud to be Muslim and now my mind is telling me that I should lead to atheism.) Now I fear the word atheism because I went online to check celebrities’ religion and majority of them abandon their religion and I feel like a magnet is dragging me to atheism but I don’t want it. I’m losing hope because I don’t have self-trust , self-confidence.

  130. Akari on March 1st, 2014
  131. Nick, I apologize but the lack of details in your comment makes it difficult to give a helpful response. I am unclear if the dream you are referring to is of religious or moral concern, or if it is related to something else entirely, so I am at a loss for how to guide you.

    That said, knowing your history of Scrupulosity and the intense anxiety and doubt associated with obsessive thoughts, you probably can assume this is an OCD thought. If you have not done so already, I would encourage you to connect with a therapist who specializes in CBT for OCD who can help guide you through this difficult time. As with all OCD thoughts, it ultimately comes down to you taking a risk rather than being stuck in your fear.

  132. Kevin R Foss, MA on March 4th, 2014
  133. In your break down of religions and how they contribute to this problem, I believe you need to specifically mention Jehovah’s Witnesses. They have a long standing policy of being very critical psychological help. As a child, I suffered from this for years. My parents dragged elders to the house to talk to me, they were uniquely unqualified to help in anyway and only said stupid things like “don’t think those thoughts’ and “I don’t know if you committed the unforgivable sin or not”. I desperately needed mental help, but it was very strongly discouraged, as a psychologist might disagree with Jehovah’s Witness teachings or contradict some of their beliefs. My parents instead let me suffer and thought perhaps I came into contact with demon-possessed objects and they purged our house of suspected items, which was hardly helpful.

  134. Claudia on March 8th, 2014
  135. Hi, I’m a devoted Catholic with OCD who’s been suffering from OCD for over three years, and I have thoughts like the article mentioned above. I am afraid that I might have actually whispered these thoughts to myself and have committed the “unpardonable sin.” I also sometimes fear that I could accidentally say the Lord’s name in vain, so I sometimes might whisper my scrupulous thoughts. Other thoughts that accompany this scrupulosity are indifferentist thoughts, thinking bad things about holy figures, or changing up my prayers into something evil.
    The thoughts got worse though when I was at the Blessed Sacrament one day, because I was reading the Bible and that’s where I learned that an unpardonable sin exists. Similarly, during mass in a later week, I learned that God will punish those who curse Abram, or something like that. That is where my mind is trying to make me think those thoughts. I am also afraid that I might have committed this sin through my actions.
    At the beginning of my OCD, I feared that I wasn’t straight and started looking at any male and twitching myself in a sinful way. I did this out of fear though, not out of lust. Recently, a thought of extreme blasphemy (i.e. the aforementioned sin) accompanied this twitching.I know that I am straight, and I’m not even at the point in my life where I should be thinking about love and marriage; but when I experienced this extreme fear or doubt, along with the scrupulous thoughts, my compulsion is to do this twitch.I’m afraid that I could have or did commit this action by choice, and I am terrified, because I didn’t mean it.
    I have been depressed now and I feel that my life is pointless now, because I fear that I have failed my mission in following God. I have been continually praying and apologizing to Him to save everyone else in my family, because I don’t want anyone else to suffer in the eternal furnace. I have also been continually asking for His mercy.
    I don’t mean the thoughts or anything that I could have whispered or done, but I am terrified that I am beyond redemption. Will God forgive me if He knows I never meant any of it?
    I want to be saved, and I want to keep following God, no matter what. These thoughts and actions have become unbearable and I don’t want them anymore. Can I get rid of them through prayer, and, again I ask, will God forgive me. I broke down in confession too, and the priest who confessed me told me its what I do with the thoughts that makes them sinful. Again I mention that a lot of my OCD is forced habit, but I’m afraid that I did or could have done the blasphemy by choice. If I did do it by choice, I am extremely regretful and sorry, and I will not stop being sorry for my sins.
    I’ve researched the “unforgivable sin” and have read that it consists of a constant spirit of rebellion against God and it is the final, ultimate rejection of God. I have no intention to rebel against God, and I only intend to follow him for the rest of my days, so that I will be able to join the Lord and my family- living and deceased- in heaven forever.

  136. Natalie on March 23rd, 2014
  137. My husband suffers some degree of this kind of OCD at least according to my conclusions. I am really concern because it is damaging our marriage. Many times I am the one feeling inadequate next to him because I don’t worry or emphasize to extremes the religion. I try my best but I don’t worry to much for not being perfect. I have got to the point that I am starting to hate the religion just by seeing him go to extremes. He of course doesn’t see it but I do and I don’t know how to help him and help myself. He has done things (good things) in the 10 years of marriage we have to help other or strive to do his best and he is an awesome man and loving and respectful but a lot of those good deeds have to do with putting us me and kids sometimes as second place in priority. An example will be I needed him to be home for something that I needed to do but he decided to visit a less active member instead and his respond to that after I get angry is…The spirit prompt me to do it. So I feel left out and with less importance even when he assure that his wife and family are priority but one thing after another has left me believe that maybe not; that his anxiety to help and feel relief by doing too much is stronger than even us. How can I help myself and him? I am really desperate because few days ago he had another episode but this time with money. I got entry with him for him getting frustrated to pay for 15.00 for some pictures but the following day he paid 230.00 to some strangers that asked for food and money for gas to get to NYC. I wasn’t present when that happened otherwise I wouldn’t let that happened. His respond was how could he pray to God with a clean knowing that he had money to give…we are not rich at all. I have a very strict budget but for him was more important to relief his anxiety and feel accomplished that didn’t care about even calling me to ask for my opinion. How do I am suppose to feel about this? I devastated in my heart. How can I trust that we will really be priority for him in all areas? I am really suffering because of the religion and the behaviors of my husband. What would be your advice here for me as a wife.? Thanks.

  138. flo on March 24th, 2014
  139. Hi Claudia,

    Thank you for your comment. I’m sorry that you had to endure such treatment defended by religious belief. Your comment punctuates the importance of making information about Scrupulosity accessible, understandable, and palatable to people of all faiths.

    While we are doing what we can do accomplish this task through this series, we are unable to specifically reference how Scrupulosity plays out in all variations of all faiths. You however, as someone who understands Jehovah’s Witnesses and OCD, are in a great position to work with your church to help them understand. It may be difficult at first, but as an insider you hold more authority an authenticity than I.

  140. Kevin Foss, MA on April 1st, 2014
  141. Natalie,

    Thank you for your comment. It sounds like you are going through so much pain right now, and I am glad you found this article.

    First and foremost, if you are not already doing so, please consider seeking treatment with a therapist who specializes in OCD. You mentioned a number of overvalued thoughts that may be misguiding your responses, which would be addressed through the cognitive restructuring portion of treatment. I would encourage you to also read the second installment of this series that focuses on cognitive restructuring for religious based Scrupulosity.

    Another helpful resource for the scrupulous Catholic can be Scrupulous Anonymous. They put out a monthly newsletter with information relevant to Catholic spiritual life from a Scrupulosity perspective.

    Lastly, I agree with your description of the unforgivable sin, and would add that if you are worried about it, you probably havn’t done it. Moving forward with OCD treatment may help you move toward your professed spiritual goals with, and despite, these thoughts.

  142. Kevin Foss, MA on April 1st, 2014
  143. Hi Flo,

    I will respond to your comment under the assumption that your husband does in fact have scrupulosity, either religiously or morally based. Your comment clearly shows the impact of scrupulosity on others, which is not often discussed, as we usually focus on the sufferer’s individual experience without considering the pain it may cause to their loved ones.

    The main issue I am seeing from your comment is that you two are not on the same page with your values and are operating your marriage from different rules. While your husband may be doing good things, it is not in respect to your budget, which I hope you two have discussed and are in agreement. Your husband may be caught up in anxiety, or may not recognize it as anxiety, which may make it difficult to encourage him to begin treatment. What he ideally should be able to see is that his actions are causing some issues in the marriage, which may be a motivating factor to getting you two into couple’s counseling where you can openly discuss your concerns about his anxieties with a trained psychotherapist. If the therapist identifies a genuine anxiety disorder, he or she may refer your husband to treatment for anxiety, but it is up to your husband to follow through.

    Asking him to read this article then have you express the concerns in your comment may be the catalyst to pursuing marriage counseling to discuss these issues in greater detail.

  144. Kevin Foss, MA on April 1st, 2014
  145. Hello I came upon this website while doing some research on this topic being I believe I have scrupulosity. I do have a question about it. I suppose the reason I am asking this is to gain some kind of reassurance (another sign of it haha) that I do indeed have some kind of religious O.C.D. I will be tormented about sins, blasphemous thoughts doubts in my faith etc. etc. But at times I will not think about these things and for a moment my mind is free from those thoughts, and shortly after that break I worry that “well then because I didn’t think about those things I must not have scrupulosity so it must just be truly me.” Then the cycle continues.

    These thoughts are often triggered by many many things especially hearing or seeing religious things on T.V. as an example and all of these blasphemous and doubting thoughts will rush through my mind and I will absolutely feel horrible about it. Thinking I am a horrible person doomed to hell for sure, and the cycle repeats over and over throughout the day.

    So does that sound like an O.C.D./scrupulosity issue to you? (keep in mind I am also a worrier so I worry about EVERYTHING.) Thanks so much for taking the time to read this!

  146. Dylan on April 28th, 2014
  147. Dylan,

    Thanks for the comment. I’m glad you found this article helpful.

    While I can’t provide a formal diagnosis via a blog, the symptoms you describe in your comment strongly suggest Scrupulosity. By noting that you are having unwanted intrusive thoughts of a religious nature, and researching Scrupulosity, and then posting a personal comment on a blog about Scrupulosity, you may be answering your own question.

    Further, you astutely note that your comment is to some extent an attempt to seek reassurance, which is one of the four main ways that people with OCD act compulsively in response to obsessions. Also, your concern that, if you are not overwhelmed with religious obsessions, then you must be “a horrible person, doomed to hell” is an example of what is known as a “back door spike”. Simply put, a back door spike is a colloquial term that describes an increase in OCD that occurs when a person becomes anxious that they are not experiencing their obsessions as severely as they previously did. In other words, you get a little relief, and the OCD goes around to the back door looking for a new way in – and finds it!

    I would recommend you seek an evaluation and/or consultation with a therapist who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for OCD and has experience with Scrupulosity. If you would like to discuss treatment options or a consultation with one of the staff therapists at our center, we can be reached via our website at http://www.ocdla.com. Take care.

  148. Kevin Foss, MA on May 2nd, 2014
  149. I’m not here for advice, but rather, to share a little of my story so that if there’s someone out there like me, and they read this, they will know they are not alone. Many of the previous comments here have done this for me, in a sense.

    I have been plagued with anxiety for most of my life (I’m 23). I remember as a child, very small, maybe 6 or 7, I would worry about death, I would panic over the thought. Count up the years until 2012 which was when I thought the world was going to end, so I would know how long I had left to live. I was completely terrified. I was introduced to Christ years later and became aware of an eternal resting place after death. So now my fear of death had a different turn, not only do you die, but you can also spend an eternity in Hell!! I prayed for God’s gift of salvation as a young teen, and lived for a short time for The Lord, but eventually kind of fell off of it. A few years later, I felt conviction of sins I was committing in my life. I would willfully and knowingly commit sins and tell myself I could pray for forgiveness later. Eventually the guilt caught up and I realized God only forgives if you are sincere. I repented and tried my best to turn away from the sin and make everything right with God. I became curious and googled whether or not one is able to lose salvation and was met with slews of articles with dire warnings and Bible Scripture claiming that falling from grace is a very real thing. I was terrified. Utterly terrified. Felt like I had ruined everything, lost my salvation and couldn’t get it back. I didn’t want to believe that I could be hopeless, although I surely did. My life was so much more stressful after this. I refused to just give up, however. I would pray the same prayer over and over again until I felt it was acceptable to God. I would consciously examine my every thought and action as to ensure I wasn’t willingly and deliberately sinning anymore. If I wasn’t sure if something was sinful, I would avoid it because it’s ‘better to be safe than sorry’. I was always confessing things to others, if I felt I may have deceived someone in any way, I would make certain to “make it right” and confess to them the whole truth, and if I delayed in doing so it was absolute torture, I would feel heavy with guilt. I would make sure to follow OT law, and follow through with any thought that came to mind. If I thought I should literally shout praises to God, despite where I was at the time, and I did not want to do it, I felt it was because I was ashamed of God, and I didn’t want Jesus to be ashamed of me before The Father so I would quickly remedy it by literally shouting out praises to God. I’m sure people thought I was insane. It became too much to bear after almost a year of that, so I gave up completely. Pushed everything away. I’ve tried and failed multiple times since then to get myself into a less stressful relationship with Christ, but it never lasts. I always give up. The anxiety is too much. I always find myself wanting to go back to God “for good” but feeling hesitant. Staying away from Him doesn’t help. I still have the obsessions and compulsions regardless. I’m at a point in my life right now where I still question everything. Do I even have a chance anymore? What I’m forever condemned? What if I still have a chance, but don’t find the ‘right’ way to Heaven? How do I live my life for God? Is it like I have done before, carefully examining each action and motive I have? Certain Bible verses trigger horrible feelings of hopelessness and guilt within me. I can’t look past them. Every time I open my Bible I find more evidence telling me to just give up because I’m damned. I feel terrified and I sob uncontrollably, and sometimes I wish I wasn’t even born because this life is so miserable for me, and to only have Hell to look forward to after it all? What a terrible way to live. I have this unending feeling of time running out as well. Like I’m running on an hourglass and if I don’t figure everything out before it’s empty, I for sure will have reached a point where it’s too late and will end up in Hell. :( this is where I am today. I don’t want to believe I’m hopeless and that my only thing to look forward to is an eternity in Hell, but I do. This is an everyday thing for me. I don’t even want to wake up in the morning. The anxiety hits me as soon as I wake up and doesn’t stop until I go to sleep. I feel like writing letters to loved ones, letting them know that when I die, if I end up in Hell, that I still love them even though I will have no love in my heart in Hell. That it’s not by choice but that I am just in a place where love is nonexistent. I look at things I enjoy in life and am always struck down with intrusive thoughts reminding me that these things will not be in Hell and to enjoy them while I still can. I just want to go to Heaven, but I feel afraid that it is something a lot harder to attain and easy to lose because it is HEAVEN and it is eternity, and a very serious thing, and because God is God and even though he does love everyone, He is also just and must punish sin.

    Thank you to anyone who took the time to read all of that. It’s a lot, and there’s a lot more to it than that. It’s such an overwhelming thing, over such a serious and life changing subject and it really affects you as a whole. I was diagnosed with OCD 5 years ago, by the way.

  150. Kelli on May 29th, 2014
  151. Kelli,

    Thank you for being so candid about your struggles. Your story clearly outlines how scrupulous unwanted thoughts can twist something that could be rewarding into something defeating. Specifically, you illustrate how agonizing it can be to over-focus on God’s punishments as opposed to balancing that fear with an objective evaluation of your actions (i.e. does the punishment fit the crime), or considering the role of grace and/or forgiveness in your faith background.

    Connecting with a pastor who understands Scrupulosity can be helpful. They would be able to talk about the theological basis of some of your concerns and perhaps guide you if you wish to continue in your faith with knowledge and confidence.

    More importantly, connecting with a therapist who understands and has experience with treating Scrupulosity will help you more effectively challenge the irrational fears that are feeding your OCD. Ultimately, you will need to expose yourself to these fears and eventually tolerate the unknown that is “faith”.

    Again, thank you for sharing, and keep going toward a life you find of value, and a faith you find true and rewarding.

  152. Kevin Foss, MA on June 9th, 2014
  153. Hi, I came across your article after doing a little research online. Basically its a family member of mine that has recently had some sort of breakdown. It was only a matter of months ago that a friend informed my parents that she noticed a change in my brother. He started reading the bible, articles online etc about Christianity. My brother is gay and is trying to convince himself that he is not – after what he has read online and in the bible – he is terrified of what might happen to him. This obsession has now turned into “the end of the world” – he spends most of his day in his room, in front of a computer reading articles and listening to speeches made by certain individuals re the 2nd coming of God. It has taken over his life. He has been diagnosed with OCD a number of years ago and I was wondering if this type of behavior was familiar to anyone? And if anyone had any advice? He has been seeing a counselor that his workplace put in place but I fear that they are not the right person? I also fear that my brother is not informing this counselor about his compulsive behavior and therefore it will be going untreated at their sessions? My brother has always battled with depression and anxiety and has been on medication for as long as i can remember. He is 35 years of age. He professes that this is the “happiest” that he has ever felt in his life but as a loved one looking and observing hims – its the unhealthiest he has ever been in his life. This obsession with the end of the world has literally taken over his life and its all he wants to talk about.

  154. Eileen on June 26th, 2014
  155. Eileen,

    Seeing a family member struggle can be painful, especially when it appears they are not seeking the help they need. Unfortunately, we cannot force people to see problems in their life, even when it may be obvious to those closest to them. We also need to remember that someone’s happiness is subjective despite how it may look on the outside.

    Two things may be going on: 1) He is going through genuine conflict between his sexual orientation and some religious teachings, or 2) he is on the OCD/ Scrupulosity carousel.

    Knowing his history of OCD, you can offer your observations about his professed happiness in contrast with his behavior, and express your worry that he may be having a new and heightened episode. You can also encourage him to read these blog posts in the hopes that he may see some of himself in the articles’ examples.

    People typically don’t seek help for their anxiety until it becomes a significant and increasing burden on their lives. This can take time, and your encouragement can help, but it is not your job to make him see a problem in his life. If you need further support I recommend that you speak with a therapist who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Exposure and Response Prevention. For more information about consultation with one of our staff therapists, please feel free to contact us via our website, http://www.ocdla.com.

  156. Kevin Foss, MA on June 27th, 2014
  157. I have had several forms of OCD for several years. I seem to have the most trouble with scrupulosity. My problem is that I often take innocent actions, thoughts, or something in one of my prayers, and begin to fear that maybe God took it a different way than I meant, or that I accidentally may have disrespected God. This will often lead me to an urge to say what I call a clarification prayer. I usually try to do these prayers in a quiet place so that I can have more certainty and acknowledgement to myself that I actually said the clarification prayer and that it was done effectively enough to clear up any possible misunderstandings by God of my actions. The problem is that often, because of the high anxiety level and perfection I am looking for while doing the clarification prayers, new OCD triggers occur while doing the clarification prayers resulting in a rapid session of repetitive clarification prayers. It can become very exhaustive and sometimes difficult to move forward from. At times I am able to successfully complete a single clarification prayer and move on, but it still creates a lot of anxiety and frustration. My problem at the moment is that I recently said a clarification prayer and said, or thought, a couple of words while saying the prayer that I thought sounded sort of like a couple of other very disrespectful words and became afraid that I may have disrespected God. This all goes back to the root fear of being afraid I may accidentally do an action, or say something during a prayer, that may be misconstrued or taken as something else by God, causing me maybe to not go to God’s Kingdom when I pass away. I have read the wonderful scrupulosity literature by Kevin, and am fighting the urge of either trying to perform a new clarification prayer or keeping my Faith to Trust that anything the may have actually happened could be a distorted thought or something that God would know was not intentional. It is so easy to want to do the clarification prayer compulsion, hoping that it successfully calms my fears, but I also know that it is risky and may cause a repetitive prayer cycle and more anxiety. The compulsion is attractive because it may provide a quick fix to my perceived problem. Kevin, please explain what is going on with me and why it is so much better to not do the compulsion, knowing that by not doing the compulsion I have to deal with the uncertainty of the event and possibly more fear.

  158. Jeff on July 4th, 2014
  159. I have been diagnosed with OCD, and do have a history of it since childhood- fears of nuclear war , having cancer, immaculate conception, etc . A few years back I went on a business trip and found myself flirting with a man. We are both married. We almost kissed, but he backed away and nothing happened. I lived in constant torture for the next four years wondering if I needed to confess this to my husband. I finally broke down and told him, but now I am having all kinds of similar obsessions about other interactions with men. I have one encounter in particular that I keep replaying about a time I was delayed at an airport and met a man from my hometown. We hung-out and talked until the plane finally took off. I told my husband about meeting this guy, but it wasn’t until this latest round of ocd ( I hope that is what it is) that I started to panic and think that maybe I was horribly guilty of sinning, that I didn’t tell my husband that I was attracted to the guy, etc. Now all that I want to do is confess… My friends and family keep telling me that my interaction with this latest fear is my ocd, but I constantly doubt it because it isn’t simply an unfounded mental fear, it is something I “did”- talked to this man when I didn’t have to, felt attracted, etc. Is this scrupulosity/ confession ocd, or am I just a bad wife?

  160. Renee on July 9th, 2014
  161. I have multiple forms of OCD I think, but my main issue is thinking that somehow, I’m losing my faith and that I’m going to turn into an atheist. And now it’s getting worse; I try to read my Bible and I can’t stop myself from questioning whether or not I believe it. I look at people on the street and wonder if they believe in God. I wonder why I’m not moved by some of the things “real Christians” are, and I’m so scared of doing something wrong that I’m not having fun anymore; I’ll say something untrue by mistake and have to correct it because I don’t want to sin. I even look up to see whether or not celebrities are atheists. I just want to be able to live for God without these thoughts popping into my head. I’m so scared to talk to a therapist because I’m scared they’ll tell me that I really am an atheist, and I honestly can’t give up my faith. I don’t know what I’m going to do but I’m scared. I can’t even go to church anymore, because those thoughts happen. I can’t even say that I’m truly a Christian, because then I think “oh, well you must be hiding from the truth, you aren’t really, just give up.”

    I just don’t understand why the one thing I need to be untouched by my issues is the one being attacked the worst. I’m scared I’m actually losing my faith.

    I just need someone to tell me that I’m not alone and that this is OCD and that I’m not losing my faith.

  162. Lori on July 16th, 2014
  163. Hello I am Muslim, follower of Islam and I have had religious blasphemous thoughts for a long time, I would see that i would have the holy book underneath my right foot – which obviously is very blasphemous, the thoughts would alternate, one day i would be sitting on the book (in my head of course), next day it would be God’s name underneath my foot etc and if u really believe in it then it is apostasy and eternal doom – so my OCD actions would be like shaking the head, and slapping my foot, – goodness it was a horrible thing to go through!! – i went on meds which helped like lorazepam….

    eventually i realised the only real way to get rid of it (u guys might not agree with me on this but stay with me…) – its mental toughness and willpower – toughness ur mind up like a brick house and the thoughts will go away. Don’t ever fight against the thoughts – it will get worse – like quicksand – the more you fight, the deeper u sink.

    dont just leave the thoughts because that will increase you in stress. the only way is to toughen up ur mind that is inside ur head

  164. Ihsas on July 30th, 2014
  165. Hi Jeff,

    To answer your questions briefly would be:
    1) I can’t provide a diagnosis via a blog comment, but it sounds to me like what is going on with you is that you have OCD.
    2) Not doing compulsions, while allowing for temporary discomfort, does not reinforce the obsessive thought. It is the definition of Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP).

    A common fear within Scrupulosity is the worry that you will say or think something that will surprise God, as if God doesn’t know what you are thinking, feeling, or experiencing, i.e. OCD. By its definition, faith comes without certainty. Conversely, OCD demands certainty. Saying the prayer “just right” does not make it more acceptable to God, and allowing for the human error affirms our humanity and allows for exposure to, and tolerance of, the anxiety of doubt.

    I encourage you to speak with a local pastor/ priest about prayer, and then follow their instruction despite what your anxiety would suggest. I also encourage you to connect with a therapist who understands Scrupulosity so you may discuss Exposure and Response Prevention.

  166. Kevin R. Foss, MA on August 5th, 2014
  167. Hi Renee,

    Thanks for the comment. The situation you wrote about has several elements that should be addressed within the context of therapy with a trained therapist who specializes in treating OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

    To address one concern, it is wise to accept that, despite being married, we will at times be attracted to people who are not our spouse. Despite this attraction, we actively decide if we are going to take steps to pursue the attraction. As a rule of thumb, if you think it’s OCD, you can treat it like it’s OCD by avoiding the compulsion of confession, while tolerating the discomfort and uncertainty that you may have done something wrong.

    From an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) perspective, it is wise to consider how our actions do or do not fit into and/or support our stated values system. Feeling guilty about flirting with and nearly kissing a man other than your husband may not be just OCD, and may be the emotional consequence of acting outside your desired character and convictions. These are some issues to work out in therapy.

  168. Kevin R. Foss, MA on August 6th, 2014
  169. Hi Lori,

    Thank you for commenting, and I’m glad you found this blog. I can only answer your questions in part.

    You aren’t alone. In fact, many people suffer from the same anxiety about their faith. I argue that doubt and struggle within your faith journey is normal and should be embraced as a learning and building phase.

    This might be OCD. I cannot tell you for sure that this is OCD for sure or in full, especially given my previous comment about the prevalence of doubt within faith. Having a history of OCD would lead me to think it could be OCD related, in which case you would be wise to initially treat it as it is OCD and work through it with a therapist.

    I cannot, nor can anyone, give you certainty that you will lose your faith, or retain it your whole life. This question is very human, but also extremely OCD driven. One goal of Exposure and Response Prevention for treatment is to accept the uncertainty in life, which for you may be accepting the possibility that you may lose part of your faith, have it transition into another manifestation of faith, or lose it entirely. Comparing yourself to others through mindreading wont help your faith, but rather, will make it increasingly anxiety based, rather than a genuine striving toward the divine. I highly encourage you to seek out treatment with a therpaist who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for OCD, which should help you discern what parts of this are OCD, and what parts are not.

  170. Kevin R. Foss, MA on August 7th, 2014
  171. Hi Ihsas,

    Thanks for your comment.

    It sounds like you were able to find a way that worked for you, but I think the idea of “mental toughness and willpower” can be problematic. Struggling with one’s irrational, unwanted thoughts by giving into compulsive behaviors is a sure way to firm up the foothold that OCD has in your current experience. At the same time, attempting to block out a specific thought or feeling is known as “Thought Suppression” (or as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) would call it, “Experiential Avoidance”). This sounds like your brick house metaphor. Attempting to block a thought like this tends to increase their presence in your thoughts, not decrease them, and no amount of mental toughness can help reduce the occurrence of these thoughts.

    Building on your metaphor, devaluing OCD thoughts and recognizing them as unimportant and irrelevant to one’s present experience is like opening all the windows and doors to your brick house. It freely allows the thoughts to come in or leave at their leisure. We don’t like these thoughts, but once you’ve built up your solid brick house, you’ve locked them inside with you for them to grow and fester. ACT suggests allowing them to come in freely, and go just the same way, because they are just thoughts and not important!

    Again, we may not like these thoughts, but you can allow them to exist. What’s important is how you act out your faith and life, not what you feel obligated to do based on an irrational, unwanted thought.

  172. Kevin Foss, MA on August 14th, 2014
  173. Hi my name is Leo

    Im a catholic (christian)but go to catholic hcruches. I have been having evil blasphemous thoughts and its really freaking me out. I started like 2 weeks ago when I was reading the bible and I found out that blasphemy against the holy spirit shall not Never be forgiven. And I got really scared and worried. Also been crying to god. One line from that verse I got scared and right now I’ve been going through a lot of horrible thoughts and confussion. I also thought that I spoken bad about the holy spirit. But I don’t mean to think all of this stuffs. I was scared that Im going hell and I don’t want to. And thinking how I can’t see my family anymore because I thought that I blasphemy the holy spirit. Sometimes think that god is angry at me or hate me. I’m only 15 years old and I don’t think god would put a young teenager to hell. For something I didn’t mean to. I’ve repenting and asking for forgiveness if I ever done it. But I know I did not blasphemy. I’ve been like this for weeks now and I am really worried that I committed this sin. Is it ocd because I’ve been like this for weeks. Thank you for your help.

  174. leo on August 15th, 2014
  175. Hi Leo,

    Fear that one has committed the so called “unpardonable sin” of blasphemy (see Matthew 12:31-32) is remarkably common amongst those with Scrupulosity. Generally speaking, the rule of thumb for this fear is “if you are worried that you blasphemed against the Holy Spirit, you probably didn’t.” That said, I can’t read your mind, I don’t know your past, and I don’t know what God is or is not going to do in response to this ambiguous passage.

    Without knowing any more, or attempting to speculate or provide unfounded reassurances, I highly recommend you seek the help of a psychotherapist who specializes in treating OCD and understands religious Scrupulosity, as well as a confessor or priest you trust who knows about OCD and Scrupulosity. Discuss your concerns and follow their directions.

    An online group, Scrupulous Anonymous, is a great place to read more about scrupulous issues from a uniquely Catholic perspective.

    If you would like to conference about this issue, or Scrupulosity in general, you may contact us through our website in order to set up an appointment. If you cannot find a priest or pastor who understands Scrupulosity, one of our therapists can also consult with them in order to help you through this time. Thank you for the comment.

  176. Kevin R. Foss, MA on August 20th, 2014
  177. Hi, I have posted on this site before and after doing some research i thought of a few questions that I cannot seem to get clear answers on. I am very much attacked by intrusive religious thoughts that RARELY leave me alone, every time I hear, read or see something religious my mind goes crazy and thoughts like, god isnt real, or god isnt good, what i just saw is a lie, thoughts that exalt the devil and thoughts about following the devil, the list goes on and on. When I am not around religious content the thoughts don’t go away, sometimes they calm down but they don’t go away entirely, and if they do its very rare for them to go away for a short time. So my first question is 1. If the thoughts quiet down and seemingly leave me alone for a while, is that a good sign that Im learning how to cope with my religious O.C.D., or is it a sign that I don’t have religious O.C.D. and it must be what I really believe (then I feel bag again and it bothers me.) 2. It has gotten to the point where the thoughts are not as bothersome as the used to be, they are still bothersome during the attacks, but not as bad, so is it a good sign im getting used to them (as horrible as that sounds.) or is that a potential bad sign? And finally, is this something that can ever go away or will these thoughts and strange fantasies always haunt me? Thank you so much for reading this long entry, and a response would be so helpful!

  178. Dylan on August 26th, 2014
  179. Hello again Dylan,

    Thanks again for your comment. Before I answer your specific questions, I want to point out that excessive research is not a substitute for treatment, and can be a compulsion in itself when one is re-reading previous or similar information to relieve anxiety, or searching for a “quick fix” or “ultimate fix” answer. At some point in the education phase of treatment, one has read enough, and it becomes time to begin active participation in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP).

    On to your questions. Throughout your life, OCD will ebb and flow at unpredictable and sometimes inconvenient times. It can be a sign you are getting a handle on using some treatment tools, but it can also mean you are in an relatively easy phase of the cycle. Remember, OCD is a pattern of thinking based in a brain chemical imbalance, so it will most likely be with you for life in various permutations, but you can learn to live a full life with it and despite of it. Since you cannot fully control what thoughts are or are not in your head, a goal of treatment is to learn to tolerate these unwanted thoughts without needing to rid yourself of them entirely.

    Rather than putting a qualitative (good vs. bad) label on the thoughts, observing them objectively may help you disconnect from their impact on you and your anxiety. In other words, accept that they are part of your thoughts and pursue your spiritual, personal, and professional life with these thoughts present in your mind, instead of spending valuable time and energy on trying to control thoughts that you don’t value and don’t benefit you. What you describe in your comments is consistent with religious Scrupulosity, and I encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD with CBT.

  180. Kevin R. Foss, MA on August 27th, 2014
  181. Hey me again. Right now I’m just confused. I haven’t yet gotten to a therapy or a doctor. Know I feel really weird. Yesterday 8-30-14. I was praying to the wonderful god. And I stopped and made a pause on that prayer. Then all of a sudden I thought something wrong about the holy spirit. Then I got really scared and thought that I said something wrong. I continued prayer. I got really mad at god and jesus. Yelling and screaming at him. Telling him that I didn’t say anything wrong,but I had this feeling that I did say something. I didn’t remember what I said or thought. Then I felt really sad and started crying. That I might committed the unforgivable sin. I felt so left out and felt that the holy spirit departed from me. I didn’t feel joy happiness any more:( I got scared that I couldn’t pray anymore or repent. And that it was to late for me. Today in the morning
    8-31-14 I was praying and again I thought I said something wrong. So I got scared, I started praying really fast and repenting a lot and fast. Because I was scared to lose repentance. Now sometimes I can’t read the bible for some reason. I look at it and don’t feel like reading it anymore. I went to church and didn’t feel that joy of going to church. It was werid because I felt like did wanted to go to church , but at the sometime I didnt . I was really in to what the priest said and I was really down for reading verses on the bible. I feel sad,lonely, and it seems like I don’t care anymore. Like if I don’t want to learn the word of god anymore. I’m paying attention to it. But I’m mean its really weird because I could pray and repent but Im just scared to lose repentance. Help me please. Is it the same OCD?

  182. leo on August 31st, 2014
  183. Hi, I first want to say I definitely dont feel so alone after reading this article, and that is very comforting. I haven’t been diagnosed with OCD but I am pretty sure if I went I would be because I fit 90% of the criteria of being a OCD ssufferer.

    I wanted to as you a question, would getting repeated horrible thoughts about past religious figures be considered an OCD. Also the thing is that I dont want try the therapy method.of purposely thinking about it because that to my religion is blasphemous. So what else could I try. I am sick and tired of all this and I just want to live a peaceful life where I can observe my religion peacefully.

  184. rose on September 1st, 2014
  185. Hi my name is Timmy. I just want to thank God for sites like this. I am 15 and I don’t why my mind is out to ruin my eternity. I always make sure I rebuke bad thoughts in the name of Jesus but this action makes it much more powerful. Lately, I have been paying less attention to those blasphemous thoughts. But whenever they crop up and I am not worried about it , I am often scared, hoping that I have not committed the unforgiven sin. pls help me . I love God and I often bow down to him and proclaim that he is Lord over everyone. I do this to show that I love him and that blasphemy isn’t an option for me….This OCD stuff has driven me to mental torture….sometimes I get suicidal just to avoid these thoughts. My life is in a huge mess right now . I need your prayers …..what saddens me most is that I am only 15..I seriously hope that I have not prepared my place in hell…..I will continually worship God and give my all…hopefully, in the end , everyone of us on this thread will make heaven rejoicing that OCD didn’t prevail over our spiritualal lives…..

  186. Timmy on September 14th, 2014
  187. Hi Leo,

    As I mentioned in my response to your previous comment, I cannot acknowledge via a blog comment if this is OCD, or the “same OCD”. However, what you write is consistent with your pattern of doubt, which is a hallmark of OCD.

    To be direct, your emphasis on the importance of feeling right, good, or motivated to pursue religious behavior is overvalued. You said “I can’t read the bible” because you didn’t feel like reading it. This is similarly echoed in your church attendance and your fear following anger at God. Simply put, our feelings regularly change, and this change is sometimes inconsistent, inconvenient, and unwelcome. The trick with OCD, and faith, is to accept the fluctuations of our feelings as part of the natural ebb and flow of our emotions, not as the fruit of the spirit, a lack of faith, or the clear result of sin (known or unknown).

    I also want to give you the permission to be mad at God. Just read Psalms and Lamentations and you’ll see a snapshot of people who are angry and confused with God.

    That said, I again encourage you to seek the guidance of a trusted confessor or priest who can answer some of these questions. Asking them the first time isn’t a problem, but repetitive reassurance seeking, despite receiving the same answer, reinforces the cycle of doubt. In order to beat this problem, you will have to pursue your desired religious/ spiritual life when you do and when you do not want to, all while accepting the uncertainty of its meaning. Remember this – if you are worried that you blasphemed against the Holy Spirit, you probably didn’t.

  188. Kevin R. Foss, MFT on November 3rd, 2014
  189. Hi Rose,

    Thanks for finding the article – I’m so happy it has been a validation and an encouragement!

    First, remember that Scrupulosity is just a word for a specific set of symptoms in OCD. OCD can be defined as a pattern of unwanted, intrusive, and thoughts, feelings, images, and/or urges resulting in anxiety. The individual with OCD then tries to resolve the anxiety through rituals, avoidance, repetitive behavior, and/or reassurance seeking. So, it’s possible your thoughts are OCD related, but nearly impossible to definitively answer without a full assessment.

    The most effective treatment for OCD is Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), and for those with Scrupulosity, resistance to ERP is common. Our approach also includes Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, with an emphasis on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. MBCBT would help you to tolerate the discomfort of the unwanted thoughts without intentionally trying to reject them. But ultimately, avoiding and resisting fear and anxiety will only feed the monster.

    If you have further questions about the treatment of OCD and Scrupulosity, you can contact me through our website at http://www.ocdla.com, and we can talk about any concerns through a consultation session.

  190. Kevin R. Foss, MFT on November 3rd, 2014
  191. Hi Timmy,

    I’m glad you found this article helpful.

    My first point of concern is when you said “sometimes I get suicidal just to avoid these thoughts.” Please speak to your parents about this, and seek the guidance of doctor or therapist immediately in order to ensure that you don’t harm yourself in any way. I truly want you to begin living the life you want to have, spiritual and otherwise, but that can only happen if you are alive.

    To emphasize my previous suggestion, seeking treatment with a therapist who understands OCD and Scrupulosity will help you get a hold of these thoughts. It sounds like you have a basic understanding of how to approach these thoughts, but working with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD can help you further refine how to approach them, while also keeping an eye on your suicidal thinking. So, for several reasons, I cannot stress enough the importance of seeking professional therapy.

    To be specific about your concerns about the so-called “unforgivable sin” passage, in general, if you are concerned with it, you probably haven’t done it. This passage is notoriously ambiguous and is a common area of focus with the religiously scrupulous. Remember that not all our thoughts are important, worth our attention, or reflect our honest personal sentiment. I like to think that there is a part of our brain that is only there to think about terrible things, but their presence in our mind doesn’t make them worth any further attention. Lastly, we are capable of blasphemy, but not all blasphemy is unforgivable.

    You and your parents can contact the OCD Foundation at http://www.iocdf.org to get resources or a list of therapists near you. If you are unable to find help nearby, your parents can contact us through our website at http://www.ocdla.com to discuss treatment options with us.

    Thanks for comment, and best of luck!

  192. Kevin R. Foss, MFT on November 3rd, 2014
  193. Hi. I’m a Christian teenager who’s been diagnosed with OCD (I was on medication for obsessive checking behaviors). I’m trying to figure out if I have Scrupulosity. I only have one of the obsessions listed in this article. I frequently have high anxiety over whether or not I am going to die and go to hell. Lately I have been praying the “salvation prayer” about twice a week. What’s really strange is that I don’t typically have anxiety about my salvation during the day. It seems to only flare up at night. Plus, when I’m not having anxiety about my faith, I’m not a very conscientious Christian. I basically ignore my faith until I have a bout of anxiety. Do you think I could have Scrupulosity OCD?

  194. Maryellen on November 23rd, 2014
  195. Hi Maryellen,

    You ask a great question that deserves some background before it can be answered. “Scrupulosity” is a subtype of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, just like HOCD, Harm OCD, Memory Hoarding, and other “types” of this conditon. OCD in general can be described as a pattern of obsessive thoughts that cause significant distress, for which the sufferer engages in behaviors to reduce the anxiety caused by these obsessions. The subtype title (Scrupulosity, HOCD, etc) is just a shorthand method of communicating the general symptoms, but it is not a separate diagnosis.

    The typical religious experience can include anxiety, and a religious response to anxiety is often prayer. We need to be cautious to avoid pathologizing a normal range of anxiety and prayer, or other religious coping mechanisms. You’ve mentioned “frequent… high anxiety” and some subsequent prayer, which may be consistent with OCD. But your report that your worry is inconsistent suggests that it may be just a fleeting over-attention to religious adherence.

    Given your previous diagnosis of OCD, it is possible to engage in the same OCD cycle with your religious faith as you do with your other obsessions. With the lack of detail or assessment, I would be unable to definitively answer your question. But the fact that you sought out this article and decided to comment suggests your distress is significant to you.

    I encourage you to discuss this issue with your therapist, psychiatrist, parent, and/or pastor, so long as these people are aware of, and sensitive to, OCD. If you are not currently seeing a therapist, please consider talking about these concerns with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Thank you for your comment, and good luck.

  196. Kevin R Foss, MFT on November 25th, 2014
  197. Thank you for this article, my husband has been diagnosed with OCD but suffers very little with obsessive behaviors most people associate with OCD, such as washing hands and rituals. He does, however, suffer greatly from obsessive feelings in our religion, feeling the need to confess everything all the time, feeling like God can’t forgive him as quickly as someone else, and feeling like he can never be righteous enough. It is painful to see someone you love feeling so hopeless, now I know that he is not alone in his feelings, thank you.

  198. natalie on December 10th, 2014
  199. Is there a organization of priests who know how to treat scrupulosity. Also I have comorbid ptsd. The severe ocd

    And ptsd feed off each other. Treating one makes the other worse. Any advice?

  200. Sophie on December 15th, 2014
  201. Hi Natalie,

    Thank you for your comments. We are glad to hear that the article has helped you. We encourage you to have your husband read the article, and to have a discussion with him about seeking treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). You may also want to click here to read our article on cognitive therapy for Scrupulosity. Take care.

  202. Tom Corboy, MFT ~ OCD Center of Los Angeles on December 15th, 2014
  203. Hi. For many years know I have had feeling that my bad thoughts can actually make things happen. Say for instance If a thought pops up that I want a plane to crash, it seems like quite often, it happens. Can thoughts and feelings make these things happen? As you can imagine, the guilt I feel afterwards is horrible.

  204. Ricky on December 28th, 2014
  205. Thank you for posting this article. This article has given me more insight on what I have been experiencing most of my life and I now feel less alone. Ever since I was old enough to say my first bad word, I suffered from horrible intrusive thoughts, thoughts of calling God and all that things holy bad things and bad names, it was to a point I feared I was cursing at God or cursing his name. As I got older the thoughts progressively got worse and I began to have sexual thoughts about Jesus and it wasn’t just about Jesus but others as well, such as my priest or a family member and this made me feel very disgusted and ashamed.

    I have battled immensely with theses thoughts and prayed and just became exhausted. It has affected my faith and my relationship with God for many years. I’ve turned to scripture many times, hoping that would help but I just find myself getting exhausted and more fearful and feeling guilt and shame. I even often wondered and feared that I was possessed because I could not help but to think that was the only thing that made sense as to why I was having these horrible thoughts. I’ve tried talking to others about these unwanted thoughts and feelings and not too many seem to fully understand.

    I am 29 now and dealt with these unwanted thoughts and feelings most of my life. There have been times were I have had control over theses unwanted thoughts and feelings and they would go away for awhile and then come back. I’ve noticed in stressful situations they are the most intense and to the point where they are unbearable.
    I recently got into a relationship with someone who is like me Catholic. I have been single for a very long time up until I recently met and got with this person. These unwanted thoughts and feelings have not only put a strain on my relationship with God but with others. I fear that by being with this person I am not fulfilling in Gods will and that I am going against Him and His will along with the Holy Spirit. I fear that I am focusing too much on what I what and not what He wants for me. Because of this I have had a lot of unwanted thoughts and a lot of feelings of fear and guilt. I fear that the only way to get Gods approval is to leave my partner. But I can’t help but to think by leaving my partner fear would still persist and will not go away. He is a very good man and so far being with him has been one of my best relationships and he certainly does not deserve all of this. He thankfully has been patient and I have been able to talk to him about all this but the fear and guilt still exist.

    I don’t know what to do and I’m just very worried to the point I have been physically sick. I don’t want to hurt the ones I care for and I don’t want to further destroy my relationship with God. Any advice or help would greatly be appreciative because I am so lost and tired of feeling this way and don’t want to destroy every relationship I have.
    Thank you in advance for any help or advice!

  206. Kristen on January 11th, 2015
  207. Hi everyone. My name is John. For as long as I can remember I’ve been suffering for a lot. When I was younger It was stuff like ADHD. Long story short I KNOW I’m suffering from OCD right now and, more specifically, Scrupulosity. I keep thinking that I don’t believe in Jesus despite being raised to an wanting to. The reason I’m so afraid is because I’ve read that if you don’t believe in Jesus or believe that he was raised from the dead, you will go to hell. I am however, Taking steps towards treating my OCD. I always take my medicine and listen to my doctors. I’m even seeing a therapist who specializes in OCD treatment. I guess I just have a question maybe you can answer Kevin. With OCD is it possible for it to manipulate you’re mind into thinking that you don’t believe in something even though you know you do? Sorry if that doesn’t make seance.

  208. John on February 5th, 2015
  209. Hi Ricky,

    Thoughts that you may somehow be responsible for something bad occurring are quite common in OCD and are considered to be a symptom of what is colloquially described as Harm OCD.

    Thoughts cannot make things happen – they are just thoughts. The phenomenon you are experiencing is called “Thought-Action Fusion“, and it is quite common in the more obsessional forms of OCD such as Scrupulosity, HOCD, and Harm OCD. You can click here to read more about Thought-Action Fusion. You may also want to read our series of four articles about Harm OCD starting at http://www.ocdla.com/blog/harm-ocd-1-1488.

    Take care.

  210. Tom Corboy, MFT ~ OCD Center of Los Angeles on February 12th, 2015
  211. Hello, I grew up with a Pentecostal minister for a father who always preached about “the end times”. As a child I felt like I had to rush my life and do all the things I wanted to before Jesus comes. This resulted in my resentment of God and rebellion when I turned 18. A few years later I started speaking to my father again and going to church every Sunday. I Love God and pray every morning to him and for my family. I want to move in with my boyfriend this year but I know that I will be living in sin and my father will know about it. I am thinking about marrying my boyfriend (of 2+years) JUST to please my father and God. I can’t be who I want to be because that is not what God wants. I can’t listen to my father because he is irrational and controlling. I am afraid I will make a mistake and also that I can never do what I truly want to do because I have to do what God wants.

  212. Samantha on March 4th, 2015
  213. Hi Sophie,

    I am unaware of an organization consisting of priests treating Scrupulosity. I would encourage you to visit the website of Scrupulous Anonymous, which may have some resources that can link you to priests who understand Scrupulosity.

    Please understand that a priest is not trained to threat the psychological components of OCD, much less understand the treatment of PTSD. If you are seeking treatment for Scrupulosity, I would recommend you seek a professional therapist who is trained in the treatment of OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and has an understanding of, or is willing to learn about, Scrupulosity. An assessment with a professional therapist will also help verify and differentiate the presence and impact of PTSD on OCD.

  214. Kevin R. Foss, MFT on March 6th, 2015
  215. Kristen,

    Thank you for the comment. I’m sorry that you are enduring this strain on your relationship. Your post outlines many thoughts and fears common to those suffering with Scrupulosity obsessions, especially the fear of cursing God or others, and interfering with God’s will. Knowing you have a history of religiously based obsessions, you may benefit from treating this no differently than you would any other OCD obsession. I have no way of knowing what evidence you have that suggests your relationship is opposing God’s will, but I do hear anxiety that should be talked about with a therapist who can be sensitive to your religious faith.

    Treatment for OCD ultimately aims to help the sufferer habituate to the feeling of fear. Once the fear can be tolerated, the sufferer is better able to evaluate personal motives and values, and in your case decide if your relationship is in-fact infringing on God’s will. Until that time, breaking up with your boyfriend based on the feeling of fear would be a compulsion, not a decision based on rational, objective, values-based consideration.

    Please consider processing this with your therapist. If you do not have a therapist, I encourage you to work with someone who is trained in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). You may also want to consider working with a therapist who uses a specific type of CBT called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which is designed to help people live their lives rooted in values and meaning, not fear and avoidance. Good luck, and thank you for the comment.

  216. Kevin R. Foss, MFT on March 6th, 2015
  217. Hi John,

    Great question. Yes, it is quite common for OCD to manipulate the way you interpret the meaning of thoughts and experiences. This is a process we call Cognitive Distortion. This process doesn’t necessarily make you believe something that you don’t truly believe, but it will present you with thoughts that often conflict with what you do believe. It’s like a person who gives really bad advice.

    Our second article in this Scrupulosity series illustrates how to challenge these distortions by developing more rational and evidence based thinking. I encourage you click here to read that article, as it may help answer your question in more detail.

  218. Kevin R. Foss, MFT on March 6th, 2015

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