Excerpt from Scrupulosity Anonymous Newsletter 06/01/2019,
"Defining Scrupulosity Correctly"
Scrupulosity is a mental disorder. From a psychological standpoint and a moral perspective, a mental disorder is a health problem that affects the way we think about ourselves, relate to others, and interact with the world around us. A mental disorder affects our thoughts, feelings, abilities, and behaviors. Mental disorders, including scrupulosity, can cause significant distress or impairment of personal functioning. The features of a mental disorder may persist, relapse, and remit, or they may occur once.
Defining scrupulosity as it truly is—a mental disorder—has two key benefits. The definition can free sufferers from crippling self-blame when they experience scrupulous feelings. The meaning is also essential to grasp for people who work with sufferers, such as confessors and spiritual directors.
"Scrupulous Anonymous" is a Roman Catholic monthly newsletter published by the Liguori Mission, associated with the Redemptorist Order, founded by Saint Alphonsus Liguori.
The newsletter focuses on individuals who need help in dealing with scrupulosity. Alphonsus Liguori, a Doctor of the Church suffered from "scruples" and feelings of religious guilt in his own life, and developed techniques for helping people with the same condition.
an amazing wealth of information regarding Scrupulosity
Quoted from International OCD Foundation
What is Scrupulosity?
A form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) involving religious or moral obsessions. Scrupulous individuals are overly concerned that something they thought or did might be a sin or other violation of religious or moral doctrine.
What are the symptoms of scrupulosity?
Common obsessions seen in scrupulosity include excessive concerns about: •Blasphemy
•Having committed a sin
•Going to hell
•A loss of impulse control
Besides excessive worry about religious and moral issues, scrupulosity sufferers engage in mental or behavioral compulsions. Behavioral compulsions could include:
•Excessive trips to confession
•Repeatedly seeking reassurance from religious leaders and loved ones
•Repeated cleansing and purifying rituals
•Acts of self-sacrifice
•Avoiding situations (for example, religious services) in which they believe a religious or moral error would be especially likely or cause something bad to happen
Mental compulsions could include:
•Excessive praying (sometimes with an emphasis on the prayer needing to be perfect)
•Repeatedly imagining sacred images or phrases
•Repeating passages from sacred scriptures in one’s head
•Making pacts with God
How can scrupulosity be distinguished from normal religious practice?
Unlike normal religious practice, scrupulous behavior usually exceeds or disregards religious law and may focus excessively on one trivial area of religious practice while other, more important areas may be completely ignored. The behavior of scrupulous individuals is typically inconsistent with that of the rest of the faith community.
How common is scrupulosity?
Unfortunately this is not yet known.
Is scrupulosity more common among people of a particular faith?
Scrupulosity is an equal opportunity disorder. It can affect individuals from a variety of different faith traditions. Although more research is needed to truly answer this question, there is currently no evidence to link scrupulosity to a specific religion.
Are people with scrupulosity more or less religious than others?
OCD makes it harder to practice one’s faith. However, there is no evidence that the moral or religious character of scrupulosity sufferers is any different from that of other people. Many notable religious leaders have struggled with this condition, including St. Ignatius Loyola, Martin Luther, St. Alphonsus Liguori, John Bunyan, and St. Veronica Giullani.
What causes scrupulosity?
The exact cause of scrupulosity is not known. Like other forms of OCD, scrupulosity may be the result of several factors including genetic and environmental influences.
Can scrupulosity be treated?
Scrupulosity responds to the same treatments as those used with other forms of OCD. Cognitive behavior therapy featuring a procedure called “exposure and response prevention” is the primary psychological treatment for scrupulosity. A certain kind of medicines called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) is the primary drug treatment for OCD. Treatment for scrupulosity may also include consultation from leaders of the patient’s faith tradition.
Are other members of a person’s faith community ever involved in therapy for scrupulosity?
Yes, sometimes. It depends on the preferences and needs of the individual. There are a couple of ways in which religious leaders, family members, or friends from the individual’s faith community can be helpful. They may be asked to help clarify a religious institution’s stance on a particular issue relevant to the scrupulosity sufferer. The therapist may also ask them to learn new ways to help support the patient’s recovery process.
Author: C. Alec Pollardis a Professor of Family and Community Medicine and the Director of the Anxiety Disorders Center at the St. Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute.
Copyright © 2010 International OCD Foundation (IOCDF), PO Box 961029, Boston, MA 02196, 617.973.5801 http:// www.ocfoundation.org