Monday, August 20, 2012

Religion and OCD

A number of bloggers have posted about religious topics lately and it's got me wondering about the connection between religion and OCD. I'm not religious AT ALL, and every time I read about posters and their relationship with God, I'm quite frankly surprised.

Now, obviously with scrupulosity as a common form of OCD, there's going to be some level of connection. And living in the "heathen" northwest, I think it's easy for me to forget that a very high percentage of Americans are religious.

I've also had the fairly (I think) unusual experience of watching my quite religious parents fall away from their church in their 60s; my mom recently told me she's not sure she believes in God anymore. WHAT?!

I don't quite know where I'm going with this post. Maybe to ask, do you think those with OCD are more likely to be religious than those without? Is it a coincidence? Is it just that those with OCD are more likely to ruminate on religious issues?

I'd love to hear your thoughts.


  1. Hi, Ann--Good post with some good questions. I don't know if people with OCD are more likely to be religious. Since OCD is probably in large part genetic, I would think not.

    But perhaps people with OCD who have religious connections are more likely to have OCD content involving religion, like religious scrupulosity. I went to high school at a fundamental Christian school, and it was a bad mix--with all its rules and literal takes on the Bible--with my OCD. It made a big impression on me and I tend to ruminate on it.

    A lot of religion tends to bring out the OCD, so I am more intent on spiritual growth than on following one religion. I just don't think my OCD can take it.


    Here's my view. Sorry it's long and rambly, but it's such a fascinating topic!

    1. Interesting post, Kate, thanks for linking it. What jumped out for me (probably not surprisingly) was when you mentioned going from being pretty much atheist to much more religious over the last 10 years. Religion is pretty fascinating even without OCD involved.

  3. It does seem like we have a pretty high percentage of Christian bloggers connected here. But maybe that is just because people with similar interests tend to group together? Same as we all grouped together with OCD? What I've read about OCD indicates that it affects people regardless of religion, and scrupulosity could present itself as hypermorality for someone who didn't believe in any god. That OCD seems to "target" what we value most could have something to do with multiple religious people struggling with scrupulosity.

    I'm afraid that's just my thoughts, not any hard facts, but I'm glad you brought this topic up.

  4. I went through a real doozie of a cycle with religion and OCD.

    In my teens and early 20's, I was a devout believer. I didn't really question it. But then, in my late 20's, as I started taking anti-depressants, I began to question just how much of my belief wasn't really faith, but fear. I realized that all of my desire to be "good" and "righteous" came from a total fear of letting God down and feeling like I would be cast off forever if I didn't live up to insanely crazy restrictions I placed on myself. Not really the kind of thing one should base their faith on. I felt very little -if any - emotion on the anti-depressants, and that made me wonder if I'd ever really believed anything in the first place.

    After stopping the anti-depressants, I began searching for what I really believed. And I went through a lot of anger and disbelief.

    But when I began to search more earnestly - and for the right reasons - namely a desire to know my place in the universe - belief in God was what fit for me. It felt right. It made sense.

    I am glad I had the chance to question things - and to assess what was OCD, what was logic, what was faith, and what was nonsense.

    For me, faith in God is what helps me find my center. And I can honestly say I am happier now in my faith after I questioned it. And after I realized how much fear and OCD played into my previous discontent with thing, I found a way to worship God that isn't obsessive or fear based.

    To each his own, and I always hesitate posting religious themes on my blog because I don't want to offend - but when it comes down to it, I figure it's my blog and I can write what I want. And I figure I should allow others the same liberty. :)

    1. Shana,

      The questioning is where I am now. I believe in God 100% but I am starting to understand how my own restrictions based on religious beliefs have gotten in my way.

      I have religious scrupulosity and it's sometimes very hard to sort out the OCD from the actual religious stuff.


  5. Interesting question, Ann. I think it's a coincidence myself, but I have nothing to back this up. Just an instinct.

    Something about Tina's comment reminded me of something I think I heard from Ted Witzig at the OC Conference. And funny enough, I just mentioned this in my own post - and that was totally a coincidence. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that OCD goes after what we care about. So if you care about your faith - it's a natural target. If you care about being irresponsible and it's a big concern for you - well then I guess it's another target.

    By the way, I just want to say thank you so much for being so open minded and putting me on your blog roll in spite of the fact that you are not religious. I truly appreciate it. And I also appreciate what you bring to the OCD blogging community. You have been inspirational to me in my OCD fight and you were probably the first OCD blog I started reading with any regularity. I have often been challenged by your dedication to beating OCD.

  6. I'm 13 Years Old(Catholic); and I am ALMOST POSITIVE That I Have OCD Religion, and It Is When You Feel Like You Have to Pray Perfectally, 24/7 for God to Be Satisfied... I Have to Say It Is Hard to Deal With, Luckily For Me I Have Developed a Way For Me to Help Control It and Hopefully I Will Overcome it One day, Thank You For Reading This.

    1. Hi,
      I had a severe Scrupulosity I am a lot better now.
      I would recommend you two asana from Yoga called “Shirshasana” (Headstand) and “Sarvangasana” (Shoulderstand). These exercises helped me a lot to overcome the scrupulosity. If you choose to go ahead with this, you would want to consider having an instructor by you when you try doing these Yoga Asana as they might hurt if you do them wrong. One last thing would be to avoid SUGAR and CAFFEINE since these things elevate the OCD and Scrupulosity. God is like a Guardian who always takes care of you. God bless you!