A young woman wraps her hair around her finger as she considers scrupulosity

Scrupulosity: OCD Misunderstood

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is nothing new, but a misunderstood form of OCD may very well be. For example, some of the millions of people suffering from OCD actually have scrupulosity, a form of OCD that exhibits an excessive concern with sin that goes well beyond the norm for the average individual’s religious beliefs.

What is OCD

Most of the time, when people think of OCD, what they think of is making sure that their work is perfect, or anxiety about germs or dirt. However, this is not always the case. OCD is a compulsion to perform specific rituals repeatedly, even if it complicates your life, or you don’t want to perform those rituals. There are a variety of signs to look for in a person with OCD, including:

  • The need to check the same thing over and over again
  • Avoiding situations that trigger obsessive thoughts
  • Inability to break from your routine
  • Anxiety when objects are not symmetrical or orderly
  • Counting or repeating the same word, action or phrase for no reason
  • Fear of touching things or shaking hands in public
  • Raw skin from too much hand washing
  • Having trouble keeping to your schedule due to rituals
  • Spending at least an hour each day on unwanted rituals or thoughts
  • Constantly seeking reassurance

Scrupulosity is a more specific version of OCD.

What is Scrupulosity?

According to David Wall, Ph.D, director of psychological services at Remuda Ranch, individuals who suffer from scrupulosity have intrusive obsessions about sin and/or blasphemy that are symptoms of their OCD. This condition presents evidence that differentiates fervent religious practices from scrupulosity. For instance, the individual’s own religious group may view them as overly scrupulous. Perhaps the individual’s religious practice is based on fear, anxiety, and constant doubt. Alternatively, the person’s religious practices are filled with self-imposed rigid rules that must be practiced perfectly. Additionally, the individual often exhibits evidence of other types of OCD.

Moreover, according to Wall, OCD scrupulosity limits the person’s ability to live a balanced and enjoyable life as it takes healthy beliefs and activities to an unhealthy extreme. This creates a life filled with constant doubt, torment, and endless rituals that never result in emotional and spiritual well-being. “Scrupulosity is particularly painful for individuals who suffer from it because it strikes at core religious beliefs,” said Dr. Wall. “These individuals are filled with shame, they isolate themselves, and may even contemplate suicide.”

Those suffering from OCD face significant frustration, dependency, and even depression. For those struggling with scrupulosity, the challenges can be even worse as this condition is not well known and rarely understood, and it can invite ridicule and loneliness. However, if awareness is raised about the disorder, more people will seek help.

Get Treatment Today

If you are tired of living with OCD or scrupulosity, it is time to seek treatment. At Promises Behavioral Health, we offer a variety of mental health disorder treatments, including:

To learn more about scrupulosity, or to enroll in one of our treatment programs, call 844.875.5609 today.

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