Religious OCD

I am sure my grandfather suffered from scrupulosity, a form of obsessive compulsive disorder involving religious and moral obsession. When I was a child, I saw he woke up late at night every night and prayed for hours while cried frantically. He asked for forgiveness from god for his sins, and begged god for not throwing him into hell. My grandfather was a very kind and nice person, he never committed any crime, but somehow he got an idea that he would be sent to hell if he didn’t pray excessively and cry frantically. I noticed everybody at home respected my grandfather for his late night prayers, no one dared to put a complaint even though the loud and noisy prayers disturbed their sleep.

Later I found a few of my uncles and aunts including my mother did the same as my grandfather for many years. They definitely suffered from scrupulosity. There are many people outside my family I know that suffer from scrupulosity. Scrupulosity is not recognized as obsessive compulsive disorder by most people. People suffering from scrupulosity don’t go to doctors for therapy. They roam freely and influence people.
I started disliking my mother when she started crying during her late night prayers. I was never really a believer. I lost my love for my mother because of her melodramatic behavior to reach god who I already believed that didn’t exist. I was very fond of my father who was an atheist. He never prayed. He discouraged his children to pray. He was a medical doctor and believed in rationalism, and modernism. My father’s bad side was he had a patriarchal mindset. Eventhough he encouraged his daughters to study science and become independent, his behavior with his wife was awful. I thank myself for getting rid of patriarchal stuff that I was indoctrinated with during my childhood. I fought against patriarchy and misogyny alone while living in a deeply misogynistic society. I freed myself from religion when I was a child and from male domination when I left my father’s house and later my husband’s house.

Some of my relatives still suffer from religious OCD. They are having academic degrees, but they strongly believe that they would go to hell if they do not pray a lot or beg Allah for forgiveness or make a trip to Mecca to perform hajj. They cry everyday thinking of hell. I feel sorry for those relatives. I am happy for being liberated. Wish all people in the world were liberated from religion and patriarchy.


  1. smrnda says

    Something on this scrupolosity – if someone kept washing their hands, re-arranging things on their desk, someone would look at that and probably think *possible OCD problem.* Wash your hands enough and people don’t think ‘why, what a nice and clean person’ they think you might have a problem.

    With religious behaviors, excessive devotion doesn’t raise the same alarm to believers – it even looks positive. It seems a bit closer to compulsions involving fitness which can become unhealthy but which, by being related to something seen as positive, won’t raise the flags.

    I’d also imagine that the fears and such of hell or whatever really are real.

    I find mental health practitioners are a bit wary of labeling anything related to religion as a mental illness. Probably a topic that needs special attention, and perhaps special therapists.

  2. karmacat says

    A psychiatric colleague from Turkey said he did a research study on OCD and religion. I think his conclusion was that religion exacerbated OCD. I haven’t noticed this with other religions, but patients may not be telling me. I wonder if it is worse with the muslim religion because of the requirement to pray 5 times a day. I would have to research the literature on this.

  3. says

    Extremes in anything is not good, and i can understand being turned off by your family members extreme religious practices. People like that have not understood their religion or follow the logic in their scripture.
    Adherents of Islam are to be balanced in their lifestyle.

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