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Religious Scrupulosity

Religious Scrupulosity OCD involves an exaggerated fear of committing blasphemy or offending and/or angering God or a religious leader with thoughts or actions. Mental and behavioral compulsions are also present and may include excessive praying or reassurance-seeking from religious leaders. The observable OCD behaviors may appear to be reflective of devoutness but in fact, they are a distraction from true religious practice and only serve to reduce anxiety. The specific religious focus of the OCD takes over one's thinking, oftentimes to the neglect of practicing other, more important aspects of the religion.

Special Consideration

Religious Scrupulosity OCD has widely been the focus of research, workshops and forums in recent years due to the complexity of the issues that arise at the intersection of religion and OCD. How much praying is appropriate for each religion? Is too much praying automatically OCD? What is a reasonable fear of damnation and when does it cross over into OCD? To further complicate matters, the answers to these questions may vary for each person. When experts gather, the groups are usually comprised of psychologists, researchers, religious leaders and therapists. Each conversation moves our collective understanding forward and ultimately leads to better treatment of OCD.


  • fear of committing a sin

  • fear of going to hell or being punished by God or a religious leader

  • fear of impulsive actions or loss of control

  • doubt that you truly believe in your religion

  • striving for purity in thoughts and actions

  • having religiously forbidden thoughts and images


  • repeatedly reciting a prayer

  • reading and rereading religious text

  • conjuring up religious images or phrases in order to 'cleanse' the mind

  • bargaining and contracting with God or a religious leader

  • internal check of one's faithfulness

  • reassurance-seeking or confession from a religious leader

  • comparison to others who share one's faith

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