Do you have scrupulosity or religious OCD? What is it? Is there a scrupulosity quiz that can help you decide whether to seek treatment? On this page, you’ll find a brief overview of the disorder, treatment options, and the most comprehensive online quiz for religious OCD.
Why You Should Take a Scrupulosity Quiz
Scrupulosity and Religious OCD is an under-researched segment of the OCD population. It can be difficult to get a proper diagnosis since the disorder can mimic normal religious practice. Studies have not been conclusive about how many OCD patients experience religious obsessions, but estimates range from about 6% – 33% in most cases. However, in highly religious societies such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, up to 50-60% of OCD patients may struggle with religious fixations.
Scrupulosity and religious OCD belong to the same family, but are slightly different from each other. Scrupulosity, stemming from the word “scruples,” can refer either to moral conscientiousness (which may or may not be religious in nature), or religious conscientiousness (which piggybacks off religious belief and practice — thus, we find religious OCD in Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, and every other religion).
If religious OCD behaves similarly to normal religious practice, how can you tell the difference? Researchers and religious authorities have spent many years helping the faithful separate between true religion and neurotic religion. It is possible to embrace the one and learn to ignore the other. But it is important to first find out if OCD is living parasitically off your faith experience. To do that, it can be helpful to take a quiz.
The quiz on this page is based on the most common obsessions and compulsions that individuals with scrupulosity experience. While it is not intended to be used as a diagnostic tool, it can be your first step forward in determining if you should seek a professional evaluation.
(Ready to seek professional help? Learn which kind of therapy will help your scrupulosity the most.)
Understanding the Scrupulosity Quiz
Just because you identified a number of items on the scrupulosity quiz that applies to you does not necessarily mean that you have religious OCD.
Being highly conscientious is considered by many people to be a positive virtue, and at least 20% of the population is biologically predisposed to be highly conscientious due to being a Highly Sensitive Person.
(More about OCD and the Highly Sensitive Person here)
But for some, this high level of conscientiousness can morph into an anxiety disorder. Religion becomes a psychological demand rather than a spiritual choice.
Instead of trust, there is trembling.
Instead of compassion, there is compulsion.
Instead of faith, there is fear.
As you take the scrupulosity quiz, ask yourself how much these symptoms affect your daily life and religious experience. It’s normal for believers to go through stages of doubt, uncertainty, and guilt. These emotions often lead us to make positive changes. But when we find ourselves permanently stuck in cycles of spiritual despair that we can’t seem to escape, there may be something more at work. Religious OCD is not a lack of faith, it is a disorder involving faulty brain wiring.
What to Do with Your Results from the Scrupulosity Quiz
Once you’ve completed the scrupulosity quiz, you will be given a score that suggests the likelihood of you having this disorder. Again, this quiz is not meant to be a psychological diagnostic tool, but if you score high on the quiz, you should seek a diagnosis from a trained mental health professional.
When you visit your therapist or psychiatrist, be sure to mention religious OCD as something you’d like to be professionally tested for, since this can often be overlooked. Otherwise, you may be diagnosed with depression or generalized anxiety disorder, which would be problematic since treatment for OCD is very different from typical treatments for depression and anxiety.
Once you’ve received a professional diagnosis of religious OCD, there are two main treatment routes: clinical or spiritual. Both routes have their strengths and weaknesses.
Treating Scrupulosity: The Clinical Route
Treating religious OCD involves seeking help from a licensed therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or other mental health professional. Interventions focus on one or both of the following:
- Medication (typically high doses of antidepressants)
The clinical response to scrupulosity has important strengths and weaknesses.
- Clinicians are often better than clergy in identifying mental disorders. While clergy are more likely to see the symptoms of scrupulosity as a “faith” problem, clinicians have a positive edge in taking symptoms seriously and understanding the psychological underpinnings of your disorder.
- Clinicians are trained in therapeutic interventions that are proven to work in managing OCD symptoms, such as exposure and response prevention therapy or acceptance-commitment therapy.
- Secular or humanistic clinicians may struggle to understand the depth, meaning, and nuances of your religious convictions as well as clergy would understand.
- When following traditional psychotherapy methods, clinicians may at times push you beyond your convictions — for example, in exposure therapy, individuals with OCD are guided through the process of deliberately exposing themselves to their greatest fear. To date, exposure therapy is one of the most effective interventions for OCD. For example, an individual with contamination OCD may be asked to hug a trash can for 30 seconds and then refrain from washing. But for someone with religious OCD, exposure therapy can take on tricky moral/spiritual implications. While it is often important to break down illogical and inappropriate spiritual patterns, you should never be led to commit sin in an attempt to be cured.
Treating Scrupulosity: The Spiritual Route
The second kind of expert that can help you with your scrupulosity comes from the religious realm. Though not all are familiar with religious OCD, you may be able to find experienced persons among the following, according to your community of faith:
- Pastors, Priests, Monks, or Imams
- Religious Administrators
- Spiritual Coaches or Mentors
- Teachers or Professors of Religion
Spiritual interventions for scrupulosity focus on the following methods:
- Using the beliefs and Scriptures of your faith community to lay a foundation for appropriate spiritual expression
- Learning new mechanisms for coping with OCD that can be supported by the theology and practice of your faith community
However, like the clinician route for dealing with scrupulosity, the spiritual route also has its strengths and weaknesses.
- Interventions aim to implement the same non-response goals as psychotherapy methods, however, they are sourced from your spiritual belief system. This can bring a sense of relief rather than threat.
- A pastor, spiritual coach, or chaplain can instantly understand the nuances of your exact spiritual obsessions and compulsions that might be lost on a secular therapist. They can also serve as content experts that can revise or modify broken understandings of your particular belief system. For example, if you are obsessed about fulfilling the requirements of a particular Bible passage, your pastor can easily give you a framework for understanding the correct interpretation, which may be far less demanding than you thought. A secular clinician may not be able to offer many insights on religious matters beyond what he or she knows about religious OCD symptoms.
- Not all clergy know about religious OCD. It may be difficult to find a pastor or church administrator who understands it well enough to be helpful. It is far more common for scrupulosity to be treated as a “faith” problem.
- Clergy and other religious workers are not able to provide holistic mental health care, such as prescribing medication or making accurate medical diagnoses. If you do find a pastor who can help you with your scrupulosity, he or she may overlook other comorbid disorders, such as depression, eating disorders, bipolar, schizophrenia, etc.
Taking the Scrupulosity Quiz: A Summary
If you suspect that you’re relating to your religion in a much more intense, anxious, overly conscientious way than others around you, there are a few steps you can take to move forward.
- Take the online scrupulosity quiz.
- If the results indicate any likelihood of religious OCD, or if any of the questions particularly resonated with you, make an appointment with a mental health professional to get a diagnosis.
- Decide which treatment route you’ll take: clinical or spiritual.
- Find a therapist, psychiatrist, pastor, or spiritual coach who can help you reach your goals.
Living with religious OCD doesn’t have to be miserable. You can learn how to get out of your head, make peace with your worst anxieties, and live a fulfilling, non-neurotic religious life.
Having scrupulosity is something completely out of your control — but how you respond to it is in your hands. You can allow yourself to be thrown about by every wind of anxiety, or you can learn what it means to “cast down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians 10:5). As a believer, it is your duty to replace faulty spiritual ideas with true ones — but the nature of scrupulosity makes it difficult for you to do this on your own.
Find someone who can help you move beyond your religious OCD. You’ll be so happy to enjoy the feeling of worshipping God in spirit and in truth rather than in fear and trembling.
What positive step will you take today?