What is Scrupulosity / Morality OCD?



Scrupulosity OCD is a subset of OCD where people's main obsession is regarding religion. People may have an overwhelming fear of sinning that prevents them from going about their life, or people may spend hours praying as they are afraid that something bad may happen if they don't.


Morality OCD can be regarded as an obsession with doing what is 'right'. People may struggle to make decisions as they may feel unsure of whether what they are doing is really 'right' or not.


People may overestimate the impact of making a perceived 'wrong' decision, and people may think that their whole life will go down the wrong life path if they make the wrong decision. It is like the butterfly effect to an extreme, people may worry that the ripple effect from their actions will be disastrous. These decisions that people have difficulty with can be small things such as what time to go outside, what to m wear etc.


Some people with Scrupulosity OCD can spend hours performing spiritual & religious practices. A person may do them excessively.


People with this type of OCD may have lots of intrusive thoughts that go against their religion or spiritual faith, or which involve what a person believes is 'wrong' or 'sin based'.


It is vital to know that intrusive thoughts are ego-dystonic, meaning that they are what a person is most against, so involuntarily having these thoughts can be very distressing for people and people may feel like they are 'evil' for having them, but the thoughts stem from the OCD and not from the person.


People with Scrupulosity / Morality OCD may have fears such as…

- The fear of going to Hell.

- The fear of being judged by God or divine entities.

- The fear of disrespecting God.

- The fear of being responsible for a disastrous occurrence if something is done 'wrong' or 'sinfully'.

- The fear of being 'unpure' or 'unloving'.

- The fear of making God angry if one makes a wrong decision.


Some of the worries which someone with this type of OCD may have seem like typical concerns for a religious person or a person following a spiritual practice, however for people with Scrupulosity OCD, these fears dominate a person's life and cause a person to have very black and white thinking in terms of what is 'right and wrong' and can cause a person to spend hours performing rituals excessively to the point where someone cannot go about their day as usual. It also has a massive impact on people emotionally as people may feel guilty, like they are sinners, even though they have not done anything wrong.


People with Scrupulosity / Morality OCD may have intrusive thoughts such as:

- Visions of hurting a religious or spiritual figure.

- Phrases in the mind which disrespect or go against one's beliefs and faith.


People with Scrupulosity / Morality OCD may have compulsions such as…

- Excessively praying (outwardly or in the mind)

- Rereading religious scriptures excessively

- Apologising to God in the mind

- Excessively writing gratitude lists to show you are grateful to God / to prime creator.

- Suppressing certain emotions that you may have been taught are 'wrong' or 'bad' or hating on yourself if you experience these feelings (for the record, this is unhealthy and all emotions are okay to feel)

- Reviewing every action that they do in a day to see if it is "good".

- Researching spirituality or 'how to be a better person' and then excessively incorporating these traits into your life and being angry at yourself if you don't.

- Checking in your mind to see if you have 'learnt your lesson' from past mistakes, beating yourself up for it to show God that you know it was wrong. (We all make mistakes, we are all learning, and you never have to prove your guilt.)

- Avoiding anything related to spirituality or religion, as this could cause someone to ruminate (excessively think and question) about whether they are really 'doing the right thing or not' or the content that one sees about religion may fuel someone's guilt and make them feel like they have to do compulsions more.

- Asking for reassurance 'Am I a good person?' & 'Am I doing the right thing?' or 'Is this bad?'

- People may stop making 'positive' changes in their lives because if they did it could mean that they have already been 'doing something wrong' and then people may be angry at themselves for not making the 'positive' changes in the past.

- Not speaking in case they accidentally lie, swear or gossip.

- Erasing "sinful" intrusive thoughts in their mind, or replaying them with a 'good' ending.

- Checking one's own intentions in the mind.


People with Scrupulosity / Morality OCD may live in constant fear of 'doing the wrong thing'. People may doubt their own actions and feel like they are a 'bad person'


Religion and spirituality are beautiful things that can add value to people's lives, give people a sense of hope and purpose, and can help people get through hard times and grow. However, the OCD mind can pick up on certain things like spiritual practices and obsess over them, over analyse them, and take them a little bit too literally to the point where the fear, guilt, worry and the compulsions become out of hand until someone isn't really able to live their life as they would want and a person's quality of life may deteriorate because of it.