Scrupulosity: Faith, OCD & ERP

Medill Reports Chicago published an excellent article on the struggles people with a type of OCD known as "scrupulosity" face, both in living life & in finding appropriate treatment. As with any type of OCD, a combination of CBT & ERP therapy can be most effective when employed by an experienced therapist. The article features a success story involving Chicago-based psychologist Dr. Karen Cassiday helping a 12 year old girl & her family overcome the hold scrupulosity had imposed on their lives. For those in Chicago, BeyondOCD is a great resource for finding such credible treatment & information on OCD.


"The word scrupulosity means “seeking sin where there is none,” said Jonathan Abramowitz, professor & associate chairman of the department of psychology at the UNC, Chapel Hill, and people living with the disorder have intrusive thoughts that counteract their moral identity.

Experts say scrupulosity isn’t widely recognized for two reasons: It’s commonly mistaken for exceptional faith in religious communities, and religious leaders aren’t trained in mental health, making it difficult for them to recognize the symptoms."

Invisibilia: NPR Podcast Explores Our Worst Thoughts

I'm not usually one for podcasts - it's hard for my brain to process information without a visual - but this one held my attention. NPR explores whether or not our thoughts are who we are or if they are something else. Of particular interest is their deep-dive into the mind of someone with Harm OCD, which includes an overview of the most current, evidence-based treatments.

Our Love For Harm OCD

Clinical psychologist Debra Kissen & I have something in common - we both love working with "Pure-O" OCD, particularly a subtype known as "Harm OCD." In this post, she articulates what it is that's so exciting to work with from our perspective as well as what to do if you are someone suffering from these types of intrusive thoughts.

Why OCD Is So Miserable: A Reporter's Perspective

Science reporter David Adam chronicles his struggles with OCD & his fear of contracting HIV in this new book that explores the realities of the disorder as well as evidence-based treatments. To learn more, check out this interview with David on NPR.

Overcoming Hit & Run OCD

Sometimes the best way to learn about & understand the recommended treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder is to hear directly from someone who has been through it. Melanie Lefebvre gives us her personal experience of exposure therapy & how it's helped her manage her OCD, which centers around intrusive thoughts that she's hit someone with her car.

Married To OCD

Dr. Monnica Williams, Director of the Center for Mental Health Disparities in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences at the University of Louisville, suggests thinking about OCD as the "third person in a marriage" - causing difficulties for both the person with OCD & the person married to them. 

When OCD shows up, the best thing a couple can do is present a united front against it. Both people need to learn what OCD is, how it works & how to challenge it. It's can be hard, but ultimately worth it.

"Pure-O" OCD: Tormented By Thoughts

Rose Bretecher was able to take on her "Pure-O," finding a new perspective on both the reality & importance of doubt in our uncertain world. "Pure-O" as a name lingers on although it doesn't accurately capture the experience - rituals & compulsions are indeed still present in Pure-O OCD, they're just unobservable mental events instead of observable behaviors.


"OCD has taught me the value of doubt in a compulsive world.
It’s taught that reassurance-seeking is overrated,
and that I cannot engineer certainty in the things I love by trying to control them.
It’s taught me that doubt is my rocket fuel."

One Man's OCD Experience, From Start To Finish.

The International OCD Foundation just released video of 2014 Conference Keynote Speaker Ethan Smith, who shares his life story about battling & taming OCD. It's an excellent journey in which he shows us the power of exposure/response prevention (ERP) therapy to change someone's life. Truly inspirational. 


"Living became more important to me than OCD."

"Your thoughts don't dictate whether you're sick with OCD or not. Your actions do.
And your behavior is under your control."

OCD: Semen Contamination

One of my favorite OCD therapists & writers, Jon Hershfield, has put together a series of articles exploring the common contamination triggers of various bodily fluids. This particular piece focuses on fears around semen contamination & how to tackle that fear from evidence-based treatment strategies like mindful awareness, direct exposure & response prevention. 
It's an excellent read on a subject that many fear talking about out of sheer discomfort given the topic. 


"You can't protect yourself from something that isn't dangerous."

OCD 101: A NAMI Primer

Need a quick overview on OCD - symptoms, causes, treatments? NAMI, the National Alliance On Mental Illness, has put together a concise OCD 101 overview that makes for a good starting point if you're looking to learn more, either as a someone who might experience it or someone who wants to be a helpful support person. 


Heads Up: If you save the PDF version from the link they provide, it doesn't include everything from the original entry, like the medication info.

Avoid Overprotecting Children With OCD

Dr. Karen Cassiday of Chicago's Anxiety & Agoraphobia Treatment Center discusses how the thing that might be most intuitive for an adult parenting a child with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) - protecting them from it - might actually be the worst thing they can do. 

Anxiety & OCD treatment can be very counterintuitive until you understand the basics of how anxiety feeds off avoidance, distraction & reassurance. We're all wired to get away from anxiety or unpleasant feelings when they get intense. However, we can make the choice to stay with them in order to learn we can handle this very human emotional experience.

A Day In The Life Of OCD

Ever wondered what it's like living with OCD? Here's an hourly breakdown of what it can be like to have to share your mind with a horrible roommate like OCD. 

Note: This is simply one person's experience. Every individual with OCD experiences it in their own unique way. What they all share is a level of anxiety so intense that it creates rituals & compulsions as an escape route. Unfortunately, those routes are only short-term fixes that don't solve the larger problem. The good news is that there are evidence-based treatments - cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) & exposure/response prevention (ERP) - that can help someone with OCD learn to manage their symptoms.

Know The 4 Rules Of OCD

OCD plays by its own rules. You need to know what they are in order to fight back. Anxiety expert & Director of the Alexian Brothers Center For Anxiety & Obsessive Compulsive Disorders Dr. Patrick McGrath lays out the 4 Rules of OCD in order to level to playing field. 

Rule #1: OCD lies to you.

Workbook Chapter On ROCD: Relationship OCD

Contamination & counting make up only a fraction of the ways OCD can surface in someone's life. Relationship OCD, or ROCD for short, is a particularly insidious manifestation that attacks someone's confidence in their relationship with a loved one. OCD experts Jon Hershfield & Tom Corboy have kindly shared a chapter on ROCD as an excerpt from the recently-released "The Mindfulness Workbook For Obsessive Compulsive Disorder" (a resource I can't recommend highly enough!).