As a sufferer of scrupulosity I decided to make this blog to help others dealing with this same problem. I will describe my advice that I would give others who suffer from this same problem. I will describe what I have learned, and what I have seen work for dealing with this type of problems. I will also write down some websites and publications that will help people learn a little bit more about scrupulosity.
What is Scrupulosity?
Scrupulosity is a psychological disorder, usually involving a neurological problem or chemical dysfunction. It usually involves a pathological guilt of moral or religious issues. It is a form of anxiety and stress for Catholic faithfuls. Scrupulosity is usually considered to be a form of Obsessive-Compulsive disorder (OCD).
A scruple is described in Latin as a pebble or stone, and in English it is describe both as a weight, and as a doubt or hesitation about a moral course of action. Scrupulosity makes sense if you put all the definitions together. A person with scrupulosity tends to doubt whether they committed a sin, or not. People with this problem also take in all the small details as small as a pebble, and they weight them to try to see if anything was done wrong. They will take all the smallest of details into context. The problem with this is that it may make a person with scrupulosity feel as if they committed a sin when they did not. If a sin was committed it may make a person with scrupulosity over-exaggerate the gravity of the sin committed.
People with scrupulosity have a hard time evaluating between a venial and mortal sin. Many times they will see sin when it doesn’t even exist; as previously mentioned. People with this problem are encouraged to see a psychologist or a spiritual adviser. These professionals can really help guide people with this problem.
Another problem that scruples have is that because of all the small details that they evaluate, they might start a prayer such as the “Our Father” and begin to go through it half way and soon find themselves repeat parts of the prayer multipe times before finishing the prayer. This is because they feel that the prayer wasn’t said right the first coupe of times.
People with scrupulosity have a hard time when confessing. Many people that go to confession give themselves a harder time that they ought to. For the reason that many of the people that suffer from scrupulosity tend to feel really bad about the sins they committed, or atleast about the sins that they feel they have committed, they feel that the priest didn’t give them a harsh enough Penance. They may feel that the priest just doesn’t understand the gravity of the sin they committed, or they may even feel that the priest is too liberal. The reality is that the person with scrupulosity is just taking it too hard on themselves.
One of the hardest problems with a person suffering from scrupulosity is the fact that they suffer from unwanted thoughts or rather “intrusive thoughts”. Many times these types of thoughts occur in the most random times. They usually occur when praying, when looking at a crucifix, or when looking at any sacred object, or image. People that get these thoughts feel like they are somehow perverted or ” not normal”. This is simply not true. What must be done is simply to acknowledge that the person having these thoughts don’t want them, nor are they consenting to the thoughts, thus given the name unwanted thoughts. We get random thoughts throughout the day, thoughts that are not logical, or thoughts that we would never want to think about. Yet when we have this thoughts we simply ignore them. This is what one must do with unwanted thoughts about sacred things as well. Many of the most devout Catholics who try their best to not sin, or to think bad thoughts usually get these thoughts; as do I. The best analogy to use is, Suppose I told you not to think about carrots for a day, what is the first thing you are going to think about? Carrots right? For this reason people who suffer from scrupulosity, or any Catholic doing their best not to think about these type of thoughts will most likely get an unwanted thought. Just as with any random thought you might get during the day, the best thing to do is simply to ignore them. Unwanted thoughts have been described as an annoying mosquito in your ear. All one must do in this case is to slap it out. This is the same when it comes to these unwanted thoughts.
Websites and publications that will help
The websites listed below are all helpful for people suffering from scrupulosity. I use most if not all of these websites and publications. Besides this, I urge you to check with a trained professional as well, as they can be of great assistance. The websites are listed below.
Scrupulous Anonymous – Scrupulous Anonymous
Crown of Thorns– Crown of thorns (Good article for unwanted thoughts).
Countering Scrupulosity– Countering Scrupulosity ( Good mp3 audio for understanding scrupulosity)