December 12, 2019

Scrupulosity: Where OCD Meets Religion, Faith, and Belief

Scrupulosity: Where OCD Meets Religion, Faith, and Belief

Please take a minute and read the following article from the OCD Center of Los Angeles.  Many people probably have the notion that Obsessive Compulsion Disorder (OCD) is a somewhat harmless psychological problem that involves nothing worse than washing your hands a lot.  A somewhat more debilitating version of OCD was featured on the show “Monk” that starred Tony Shalhoub as the eponymous title character.  In the show, Adrian Monk is a brilliant San Francisco detective, whose obsessive compulsive disorder just happens to get in the way of his solving crime and living his life.  It was broadly played for comedic effect, although, to be fair, there were some poignant moments as well.

However, the real OCD variation known as “Scrupulosity” is not funny—at all.  Typical symptoms, according to the article, include:

  • ·         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

These thoughts torment the person suffering from the disorder to the point that they can’t hardly live their life at all.  They literally can think of nothing else.  It is not uncommon for the loved one in our family suffering this disorder to remain in bed all day and all night for days at time.  Other compulsions include:

  • ·         Repeated and ritualized confessing (to religious figures such as pastors, church elders, and/or to friends and family)
  • ·         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)

We have got our loved one into one treatment program, but they weren’t satisfied with it and quit.  We are trying to get them into another one.  I have commented before that the mental health system in this country is in bad shape.  There are not a lot of places that offer treatment and insurance coverage varies widely.  Unfortunately, the quality of therapist also varies widely.  In these situations it is very important that patient and therapist are compatible.

I’ve been meaning to post on this topic for a while, especially after Klasie Kraalogies shared his experience with mental illness in a loved one.  The intersection of faith/religion and mental illness is difficult terrain to traverse and is made much more difficult by many misconceptions that exist in church circles, especially charismatic and evangelical churches.  Far too many people still think that depression is a moral failing.  I’ve also lost count on the number of “deliverance” sessions my loved one has been to where demons are cast out.  I used to be somewhat tolerant of well-meaning fellow Christians, but no longer—because such “ministry” exacerbates the problem instead of relieving it.  Especially when so called well-meaning fellow Christians discourage the loved one from taking medicine prescribed for the condition.

One bright spot is the local conservative evangelical mega-church that we often attend.  They have some very sensitive ministry staff that don’t hesitate to recommend qualified medical professional help for mental health issues in their congregants, and encourage them to remain on prescribed meds.

The last issue I wanted to raise on this subject might be a little more controversial.  Some of you reading the article probably thought that the symptoms described as OCD Scrupulosity were mighty close to how you might describe some people you’re acquainted with at church.  Maybe not to the extreme in the article, but, still… uncomfortably familiar.  The bible says in Ecclesiastes 7:16 (NIV): Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise—why destroy yourself?  Then there is this quote from the article:

Also, allow us to note that, before beginning the process of therapy, both the client and therapist should be aware that the result of engaging in CBT for religious Scrupulosity may not be limited to a reduction in distorted thoughts.  An additional result may be that the individual begins to challenge their global interpretation, experience, and practice of their faith. While this does not necessarily mean a loss of faith, it may mean that the individual transitions away from an excessively dogmatic view and practice of faith, and towards a less rigid interpretation.  It may also mean that the individual will develop a lifestyle without some of the specific practices that they previously found so vital to their faith, or even an entirely new perspective towards their faith.

I’m just going to come out and say it.  Maybe, just maybe, getting shed of your fundamentalist mindset is part of getting mentally healthy.  Excessively scrupulous, dogmatic, rigid interpretations of scripture, over reliance on proof-texting, inability to reason outside of black-white thinking, inability to understand nuance, maybe these are not just a temperament, but they are indicative of a dysfunctional mind.  Wait… so Mike… are you saying if I’m a fundamentalist I’m mentally ill?  Well… not exactly (*).  What I am saying is there is a continuum or a spectrum from the dysfunctional severe mental illness of Scrupulosity OCD to a healthy and fulfilling religious life.  Where do you place yourself on that spectrum?  Maybe more importantly, where do those around you place you on that spectrum?

Rather than get mad at me, if you need help, get help.  Of course, the first step is recognizing you need help.

 

 

*Just to be clear, and for the record; the article makes it plain that the OCD behavior occurs not just in Christianity:  “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.”  Also Scrupulosity OCD gets its own category of diagnosis expressly because the compulsion fixates on the religious components of the sufferer’s life.  But other aspects of one’s life can be subject to the dysfunctional compulsion that seems to afflict humans.  Ever run into a monomaniacal meat-is-murder vegan?  How about a constantly-virtue-signaling SJW?  Trekkies?  Ask HUG to give you a discourse on Fanatical Furries sometime.  My point is it’s a human condition.

Comments

  1. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    At last!
    Somebody’s tackling this subject!

    Being prone to Perfectionism myself, I’ve seen this particular type of Ideological OCD from the outside AND the inside; a LOT of the Evangelical bubble is set up to encourage it. (See “Kirk Cameron” for a type example.) Though I didn’t know its name at the time; I didn’t hear of the term “Excessive Scrupulosity” until my RCC catechism in RCIA.

    Just like St Rose of Lima’s self-destructiveness got mistaken for Holiness (or she was Holy in spite of her self-destructiveness, not because of it), so Scrupulosity OCD gets mistaken for “On Fire For The LORD”.

    • Wow, you brought up some excellent points when elaborating on what this article said. I truly wonder how many Christians out there are suffering with Scrupulosity OCD. I have suspected that I have OCD myself, and after reading this, I think I could easily fall into the rut of it, though not always. Obviously the more I think about it, the worse the symptoms get. I can see how people could easily fall into it, just because of all the legalism out there. many people mean well, as they are trying to keep from being tolerant, which tolerance is a dangerous state. However, too much extreme in the other direction is just as dangerous. After reading these symptoms, it makes me more grateful for Christians, such as Bruce Marchiano, Max Lucado, and others who show the other more personal sides of Jesus, like His joyous side, His playful side, and His passionate loving side. Though I will always struggle with OCD’s anxiety obscuring my view of Him, making me doubt His love for me, I do notice the more I focus on Jesus’s human emotions, and imagining them being directed at me, the less my symptoms flare up. It’s like a little ray of sunshine breaking through the dark storm cloud.

      • Mike the Geologist says

        Thanks for commenting, Rachel. I wanted to make this post and get the article out into people’s hands. I suspect that a lot of Christians who are drawn to excessively legalistic forms of the faith are trying to cope with this disorder, even the milder forms of it as you seem to indicate. Ask some pastors if they have encountered people who think they’ve blasphemed the Holy Sprit and are going to hell and there is nothing they can do about it. You might be shocked at how common that malady is. But there is hope. It is a TREATABLE form of mental illness and one can get help for it. One doesn’t have to keep suffering it.

        • I always found Hank Hannegraff’s advice to people worried about having committed the Unpardonable sin to be gold…

          “If you’re worried about whether you committed it… you haven’t committed it.”

          • Mike the Geologist says

            Hannegraff’s advice is helpful to people who are just confused about what the “unpardonable sin” is. However, it is totally useless to those in the grip of the OCD. No amount of reasoning will break “the spell”, believe me, I’ve tried and tried.

            • Christiane says

              I think that OCD and a host of other presenting problems are ‘symptoms’ of some deeper trouble.

              I do think there is a ‘connection’ between extremist fundamentalism and bullying of the kind that tries to shame others and ‘cast them out’. It seems obvious to me, but there may be ever so much more about it that I don’t understand and I know that also.

              We had a lady in our community up at the lake in New Jersey who was very focused on cleaning her house daily. . . . how many hours I do not know, but she was known for this behavior; and I remember at the time thinking ‘maybe she wants to have some control over her life and this is the way she deals with that need’. When we got to know her better, we learned that she had had a VERY difficult, painful childhood and I wondered then if the fierce need to ‘clean’ house was her way of working that out for herself. (?)
              So that constant cleaning might have been her ‘crazy’ or maybe it was just her way of trying to heal from a difficult childhood. (?) Do any of us know why we do half the things we do ???
              I found out she passed away from Multiple Sclerosis a few years ago and I was saddened to hear of her passing from that terrible disease.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              Hannegraff’s advice is helpful to people who are just confused about what the “unpardonable sin” is.

              In practice, The Unpardonable Sin is “Whatever YOU do that I Don’t.”
              Coup Counted.

              Another thing about OCD scrupulosity is it can amplify the any OCD scrupulosity of everyone in contact with it. Especially when Groupthink factors in.

              And when that OCD scrupulosity turns outward instead of inward, you get Sin-Sniffing One-Upmanship. A Zero Sum Game of proving I’m Saved by proving You’re NOT. Like a Hyper-Calvinist always trying to prove that HE’s Truly Elect. (Or is that just the Calvinist way of showing OCD scrupulosity?)

              • And when that OCD scrupulosity turns outward instead of inward, you get Sin-Sniffing One-UpmanshiP
                Hug, and when it turns inward I hear a lot of your comments

            • Adam Tauno Williams says

              +1

              One cannot argue with illness; that’s not the answer.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          But there is hope. It is a TREATABLE form of mental illness and one can get help for it. One doesn’t have to keep suffering it.

          But a lot of churches have the same attitude towards “mental illness” and the “help for it” as Scientology. A topic covered many times on this and other blogs. Just google “Biblical Counseling”, “Nouthetic Counseling”, or “Mental Illness” on this or other Spiritual Abuse blogs. “Nouthetics — just like Dianetics, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”

        • To Mike the Geologist:
          Thank you for replying to my comment. It’s a very refreshing change that someone actually took the time to read what I wrote and reply.
          I do know there is help for OCD from secular sources. But what about Christian counseling? Something that Headless Unicorn Guy said is very true, too, that most churches don’t acknowledge mental disorders as being real. I was recently looking online to see if there was good Christian counseling for people suffering with Dissociative Identity Disorder (multiple personality disorder), and not much Christian counseling paces showed up, and those that did claimed it’s all imaginary or demon-possession and didn’t even acknowledge this, along with other extreme disorders, as real disorders. How do you find counseling and treatment out there that doesn’t come from a secular point of view? I wouldn’t be able to take a secular counselor seriously, because they wouldn’t be able to acknowledge my relationship with Jesus as legitimate. They would think that I’m being religious about my religion and wouldn’t be able to assure me that Jesus isn’t upset with me.
          And I also wonder, if I was obsessed with the thought that I am upsetting God in some unknown way, would I care as much about Him? I kind of like longing after Him and His approval, as it keeps my mind focused on Him. Man, all this now makes me wonder, for the millionth time, am I really saved? Is it just my OCD and other anxiety and insecurities making me long for God’s attention and affirmation? Am I really loving God, or am I loving His affection? I’ve also tried looking up that subject, too, but to no avail. So I wonder if there is still a difference.
          Sorry for rambling on, but I appreciate you listening. 🙂

          • Mike the Geologist says

            Here’s the thing, Rachel. What you want is competency in the ability to treat the disorder. If you can find a compatible Christian counselor, then great. But as you noted, it’s rare. But do you care if your auto mechanic is a Christian? How about the washer/dryer repairman? Or your surgeon? In my experience, most therapists have an ethical commitment to not disparage their patients religion. My loved one had a wonderful Jewish therapist– she was absolutely the best and very helpful. We would have continued with her, except she retired. You have to ask yourself: do I want Christian fellowship, or do I want someone capable of helping me get better?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      P.S. “Constantly-virtue-signaling SJW” is just a secularized form of a Church Lady playing “Holier Than Thou — See? See? See?”.

      • Sure but when did the desire for social justice become a character flaw? When we accuse someone of being a “social justice warrior” just what exactly are we accusing them of? Hypocrisy? Self-righteousness? Then why not just say that?

        • Christiane says

          Hello Stephen,

          likely, the ‘right’ wishes to trash the term ‘social’ in ‘social justice’. But ‘social justice’ is not a part of the culture wars of the current fundamentalists-Trumpists, no. ‘Social justice’ is an old an ancient yearning of our humankind for some ‘repair’ of our broken world in so far as we humans can contribute to that repairing . . . I think the term ‘social justice’ is synonymous with ‘tikun olam’ in the Jewish tradition AND with the Holy Gospel of St. Matthew, ch. 25, where we are called to CARE for those who suffer if we would follow Christ and be recognized by Him. . . . .

          so I suppose ‘hypocrisy’ and ‘self-righteousness’ aren’t strong enough for the ‘christian far-right’ and they intend to pursue Trumpian worship all out against ‘socialism’ . . . . . a strange journey for a stranger people in my opinion. May God help us all and keep us from the evil one.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          I had run-ins with Social Justice types in Newman Center in the early Eighties, during the period of “Liberation Theology”. The proto-SJWs of the time were best described as “Christianity and Marxism-Leninism-Castroism are really just like each other; Especially Marxism-Leninism. VIVA FIDEL!”

          Trust me, you don’t want to be someone who really fled Fidel’s Perfect Worker’s Paradise around one of those SJWs. I saw it happen. At least it was just belittiling and gaslighting, the Condescending pat-pat-pat on her Ignorant/UnWoke little Head.

          And the most fanatical of these SJWs were rich-kid “Yuppie Puppies” from exclusive Gated Communities like Irvine.

  2. Pellicano Solitudinis says

    “I’m just going to come out and say it. Maybe, just maybe, getting shed of your fundamentalist mindset is part of getting mentally healthy. Excessively scrupulous, dogmatic, rigid interpretations of scripture, over reliance on proof-texting, inability to reason outside of black-white thinking, inability to understand nuance, maybe these are not just a temperament, but they are indicative of a dysfunctional mind.”

    Amen.

    • Susan Dumbrell says

      Take care.
      You are loved.
      Susan

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      “Excessively scrupulous, dogmatic, rigid interpretations of scripture, over reliance on proof-texting, inability to reason outside of black-white thinking, inability to understand nuance, maybe these are not just a temperament, but they are indicative of a dysfunctional mind.”

      A dysfunctional mind that a LOT of churches mistake for The Holy Spirit.

  3. I had severe OCD for many years. It’s content and manifestation was not specifically religious. In my experience of the disease, however, it seemed to that there was an underlying drive to control the imagined dangers of reality by repetitive rituals that had a distinct religious or superstitious dimension. I believed the rituals would minimize the dangers, and alternately failure to follow the rituals would assure disaster. Somehow, over the years, the OCD decreased all by itself, without treatment, and without effort on my part except for a gentle pushing aside of its worst manifestations when they presented themselves. Don’t ask me how. I still have obsessive tendencies, but they are much diminished from the way they used to be, and they don’t significantly impact my life.

    • I have had the same experience as you, for some reason the symptoms just went away, or dulled as time and life went on. I know of people who have up and down cycles and never seem to break free. I have to say that scrupulosity or ocd uses things that you value the most to torture you, for people like us it’s hard to separate faith from the disease.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      In my experience of the disease, however, it seemed to that there was an underlying drive to control the imagined dangers of reality by repetitive rituals that had a distinct religious or superstitious dimension.

      Like a form of Displacement Behavior, i.e. When you’re between a rock and a hard place and everything is spiraling out of control, find something you CAN control (no matter how trivial), turn on the tunnel vision, and micromanage it to death 24/7.

      • Christiane says

        sounds about right (Displacement Behavior), yep

      • True. Much in my life was really out of control (still is), and I know I used the OCD maladaptive behaviors to try and cope with the feelings of powerlessness that being out of control generated in me. Of course, it didn’t work; it just generated more anxiety and fear in addition to what I was already suffering.

        • Christiane says

          Robert, it is possible to get help for that anxiety (and i don’t mean medication) . . . . talking it out with the right people can help take the edge off of it. Start by telling your physician what’s going on.

          I will pray for you to find peace from that suffering.

          • I’ve had numerous counselors/therapists over the years. I haven’t found it very helpful. The thing that has been helpful is getting old, and no longer expecting too much healing or relief in this life.

          • Thank you for your prayers.

  4. Clay Crouch says

    For a brief, but intense period in my late teens, I suffered from some of these exact symptoms. It was exhausting and filled me with hopelessness. Looking back on it now, I am grateful for what that experience taught me about Jesus.

    • Mike the Geologist says

      Thanks for weighing in Clay. I’m glad you grew out of it. As I said before, this is much more common that people want to admit.

      • Clay Crouch says

        Thank you for sharing the article and your personal exposure to this debilitating disorder. Until this morning I was unaware that it was a recognized disorder. I hope your loved one will one day be free of it.

  5. I can’t say exactly how much this factor played a part in my own journey – but I can say that I was not an emotionally or relationally well person when I became an evangelical, and theology was one hell of a fine refuge (pun intended).

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Yep. Also something I have pondered about myself.

      Both Theology and Ideology can make excellent shells; but at a terrible price.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        I’ve always considered Theology to be a sub-type of Ideology.

        Ideology (in pre-Marx Oldspeak) means “study of belief systems” and Theology is the study of specifically-religious belief systems.

  6. I think almost everyone who has been through the gristmill of fundamentalist and other intense religious experience can relate to this. I’m still sorting it out.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Because “the gristmill of fundamentalist and other intense religious experience” selects for and encourages it.

  7. I have thought for a long time now that our theology is largely dictated by our personality. The Evangelical fundamentalist would likely have become an Islamic fundamentalist if born in a different country. So I don’t think you can lay the blame for these disorders on whatever church they go to, but there are most definitely attitudes which help, and attitudes which make things a whole lot worse.

    My closest experience of what sounds very much like Scrupulosity is the wife of a dear friend who beats herself up over imagined sins no end. And unfortunately refuses to take the medicine.

  8. I dealt with OCD symptoms like the ones described in this post for years. I had my worst episode at the fundamentalist college I went to. My poor parents thought I was losing my mind. I didn’t know the thoughts were part of OCD until I was in my mid 20s. I finally went to counseling and I stopped attending the fundamentalist church I grew up in. Years later, I’m in a much healthier place. I found a Presbyterian church I like with balanced and sane teaching and theology. I can’t tell you what a difference it has made. Even at my worst. I was considered rather high functioning for OCD because I maintained my job, etc., but it took such a toll on me mentally and emotionally. my heart goes out to anyone trying to get relief for this issue!!, I found exposure and response prevention therapy to be life changing for anyone who might be on the fence about trying it!

    • Mike the Geologist says

      Jullie, thank you for sharing your experience. There are a lot of lurkers at this site who read but don’t comment. What you’ve said maybe more helpful than you’ll ever know. Be Well – MTG

  9. Burro (Mule) says

    Temperamentally, OCD is the polar opposite of what ails me, so the testimonies that have been posted here read like dsipaches from a far country where people live by the lunar calendar and walk backwards so as not to face their neighbors.

    Strict, hardcore, fundamentalism is good for what ails me. I am the laziest hnau in the Field of Arbol. Everything I do is predicated on the standard ‘Good enough for government work’. Add to this a[n] [un]healthy dash of narcissism, and left to myself, I would probably find a comfortable tenured position, smoke a lot of marijuana, try to seduce a wide variety of women and commit to none of them.

    So, I don’t particularly need the Good News that God isn;t furious at me. After all, how could God, who seems to be reasonable enough, be angry at such a capital fellow as myself? What I need is a hard and arduous path, but with a vision of surpassing Beauty at the end of it that makes it worth my while. By the grace of God, that’s what I have been given.

    But the light is slowly dawning on me that other people have different struggles

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > But the light is slowly dawning on me that other people have different struggles

      That star rises slowly for more than just you.:)

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      +1 on the Planetary Trilogy references…

    • –> “I am the laziest hnau in the Field of Arbol.”

      Yep. I was going to post a comment that I’m whatever the OPPOSITE of OCD is, which I think manifests as endless procrastination and perpetual laziness.

      –> “Strict, hardcore, fundamentalism is good for what ails me.”

      But I never bought into that, either. I’ve always bristled at guilt and shame-based religion, (I never even considered that such a philosophy might actually break my laziness and procrastination until now!)

  10. In a sick world even the hale are sick.

    -Olaf Stapledon

    • anonymous says

      “The Lord out of dust had created him, had made him blood and nerve and mind, had made him to bleed and weep and think, and set him in a world of loss and fire ”

  11. It’s like I posted a few days ago: It ain’t “right beliefs” that fix our relationship with God, it’s Jesus Christ. Yet so many Christians continue to make it about “right beliefs.” After reading this post, it’s clear that a religious focus on “right beliefs” feeds perfectly off the OCD personality, making fundamental “doctrine oriented” Christianity even more unhealthy.

    • Christiane says

      “It ain’t “right beliefs” that fix our relationship with God, it’s Jesus Christ.”

      “Kyrie, eleison”

  12. Dana Ames says

    Thank you, MIke the G. Especially when I was a young adult, I had contact with groups/churches that could have elicited this from my perfectionistic personality. That I did not succumb to it was the providence of God gently – and imperceptibly to me, until looking back from another place – steering me out of said groups.

    Dana

  13. Klasie Kraalogies says

    Oh yes. This is very familiar – the cult I grew up in, described in an earlier post, were the worst for triggering OCD. I suffered with it till leaving it – and overcame it once outside fundamentalism (long before I became an atheist). Sects / cults / fundamentalism are massive traps for anyone with OCD or any other sort of vulnerability. That is why these people are downright evil – like con men preying on the aged. A pox on their houses…

  14. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    ·Ritualized “undoing” behaviors to counteract perceived sins and transgressions

    This sounds like a form of Magical Thinking, an overlap between Scrupulosity and Superstition.

    And brings to mind a memory that one of the beefs the Romans had with these Christians was they weren’t superstitious enough to be a REAL religion (like all the others).

  15. senecagriggs says
    • Wow! Level headed and brave. A tough row to hoe.

      • senecagriggs says

        Very tough

        • I’ve known two seriously schizophrenic people, neither of whom would have been able to reflect upon their condition with such clarity. Her ability to sort through and stay distinct in her own mind reveals the extraordinarily difficult internal work that she must regularly, daily, engage in.

  16. johnbarry says

    An informative and good overview of a complex , tough subject to deal with. It is such an individual issue that defies any broad, overall coverage. As Burro noted above some people need and thrive off clear , cut “rules” to live by and want the order the rules create. Scienctologist to me might fall in this group as a generalization.
    I certainly do not think this issue is any more pronounced in the frustrating evangelical community than any other organizations with strict , pronounced rules or any type of structure. As many have done here, people vote with their feet. .

    Mike the Geo Man, good article that touches a subject that needs to be examined by church leadership , as well as other organizations.

    I also think of your profession when I hum the words and tune, on solid rock , I stand , all other ground is shifting sand. I think that is why Manhattan skycra

    I am fearful when I meet a real life geologist they may want to examine my head.

    My favorite song is Crazy by Patsy Cline which unfortunately is all I can add to discussion, except to say one man’s crazy is another man’s normal. People with mental health problems are everywhere and in every endeavor.

  17. johnbarry says

    to finish my sentence “that is why the Manhattan skyscrapers are built on there and not in the city of New Orleans “. Talk about a typo, my mind is faster than my fingers but I type reaaaaaaaal slow so my mind in probably not that quick.

  18. Long-time reader here, but this post has brought me out of lurkdom.

    In 2016 our child was treated for OCD in an excellent partial hospitalization program. This child was 10 at the time, with onset of OCD being around age 8.5. This child does not have Scrupulosity, but contamination, OCD. The exposure response prevention treatment that, along with medication, literally saved our life and family would’ve been inexplicably difficult to undergo for Scrupulosity. For contamination OCD, the child had to face his/her worst contamination fears (by exposing him/herself to vomit, touching a toilet without hand washing, etc.) For Scrupulosity,I saw a teen in treatment have to carry around a satanic bible, etc. I would say that spending nine weeks in treatment with my child was a defining experience for me and caused me to go back to square one with my faith.

    Most church people were kind to us about it but very puzzled. I had one unfortunate and hurtful conversation with a childhood friend in which the friend pointedly asked me if I had taught my child about the power of God, etc.—the friend felt like if only my child knew and experienced God’s deliverance, all would be well. This was without a doubt the most painful conversation I’ve ever had. It felt like I was being blamed for my child’s mental illness—that I hadn’t had enough faith or taught my child purely enough.

    About this time I really began to examine my own church experience and Michael Spencer’s Wretched Urgency essays were instrumental in my coming to terms with much of my religious upbringing. Although my own child’s religious upbringing has only been peripherally similar to mine, I have worked hard to protect all my children from the same sort of teachings and atmosphere that play on anxiety, especially knowing our family’s psychological makeup.
    I’m not sure why I have written this ramble. I just wanted to share.