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Information for Individuals

Religious and Moral Fears

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Read the article: Let He Who Is Without Sin - OCD and Religion

OCD that concerns religious and moral fears is called Scrupulosity.  Obsessions about religious matters can include a variety of forms:

  • Thoughts or fears of being unworthy of salvation
  • Fears that prayers have been said incorrectly or parts have been left out
  • Thoughts that sins have been committed or that God is displeased about certain actions, and atonement should be made
  • Belief that one isn’t religious enough and must practice his or her religion more, or more perfectly, or it “doesn’t count”

Other obsessions that seem to be the opposite of religious ones, but are also part of Scrupulosity include:

  • Repeated blasphemous thoughts or thoughts and fears of saying blasphemous expressions during religious services
  • Intrusive thoughts (including sexual thoughts) about religious figures or God
  • Fears of being or becoming possessed by evil spirits or the devil

Compulsions of Scrupulosity include exaggerated actions such as:

  • Praying or performing religious rituals for an extended period of time, such as many hours a day (sometimes this is to make sure they are performed “perfectly” or enough)
  • Continually asking for God’s forgiveness and repeatedly confessing perceived sins, either to God through prayers or to a member of the clergy
  • Constantly mulling over one’s actions, wondering if the behavior was sinful or if words had double meanings of a sacrilegious or blasphemous nature
  • Trying to cancel out “bad” thoughts with “good” thoughts or more religious thoughts; trying to “make up for” bad thoughts by thinking the same amount of good thoughts
  • Saying certain prayers a certain multiple number of times, or (in some religions) making the sign of the cross a specific number of times before, during or after praying

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