Jump to content

Scrupulosity


Recommended Posts

Scrupulosity
"Scrupulosity is characterized by pathological guilt about moral or religious issues. It is personally distressing, objectively dysfunctional, and often accompanied by significant impairment in social functioning. It is typically conceptualized as a moral or religious form of obsessive–compulsive disorder."

I wonder how many have left the church because of this "disorder".  I have known so many who have tried so hard to live the letter of the law and because of that and the guilt they feel they decide to give up and leave the church as the lady in this article did:

From Mormon missionary to Lutheran pastor

"Katie Langston didn’t know much about Lutheranism when she enrolled in a Lutheran seminary. She only knew that Mormonism, the religion of her childhood, had become wrapped up with both joy and pain, and that the pain had started to be more prominent.

We were a very devout family, very conservative,” Langston told RNS.

The term she uses is “quasi-fundamentalist”—not in the sense that they practiced polygamy, which “fundamentalist” has become code for in Mormon circles, but in the classic sense of interpreting scripture and the counsel of general authorities in a very literal, black-and-white way.

It was a loving childhood, but Langston often experienced crippling anxiety. “I was a very sensitive kid and had a ton of religious anxiety that would later be diagnosed as scrupulosity, a religious form of OCD,”

 In the memoir she recounts her struggles to stay “clean” as a Mormon youth, engaging in repeated patterns of doing something the Church viewed as wrong and then praying desperately for forgiveness. “Please forgive me of all my sins,” she would beg—through her childhood, her mission to Bulgaria and into her adult life.

It took a toll. “It reached a point in adulthood when I felt as if life was not worth living, to be honest. Around that time, I had a profound experience of God’s grace that I struggled to make sense of within a Mormon context. I battled with that for the better part of a decade.”
______________________________________________________

Was she affected by the example of her parents? Was this just part of her personality? Can members with this same kind of OCD personality still thrive as members of the Church?

 

  • Like 2
Link to post
25 minutes ago, JAHS said:

Scrupulosity
"Scrupulosity is characterized by pathological guilt about moral or religious issues. It is personally distressing, objectively dysfunctional, and often accompanied by significant impairment in social functioning. It is typically conceptualized as a moral or religious form of obsessive–compulsive disorder."

I wonder how many have left the church because of this "disorder".

Or perhaps how many have hd this disorder aggravated because to the high bar requirements the church has and teaches about?

Link to post
4 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

That these feelings are pretty common among church members suggests something more than OCD behavior. I remember reading a survey published about feelings of guilt among members of various religions. No other religion compared to Mormonism. Sure, family and individual personality are contributors, but this doesn't happen in a vacuum. 

I have these same feelings sometimes also. Guilt can be a normal and healthy feeling if not taken to extreme. It helps us to realize when changes need to be made and compels us to make the change. I also balance these feelings with the feelings that I know God has for me which keeps me going and not give up on myself.

  • Like 2
  • Upvote 2
Link to post
5 minutes ago, JAHS said:

I have these same feelings sometimes also. Guilt can be a normal and healthy feeling if not taken to extreme. It helps us to realize when changes need to be made and compels us to make the change. I also balance these feelings with the feelings that I know God has for me which keeps me going and not give up on myself.

We all do. It just seems dismissive to say that members who struggle guilt have OCD or bad parents. Guilt is taught, and not just by one's family.

Edited by jkwilliams
  • Like 2
  • Upvote 2
Link to post
21 minutes ago, JAHS said:

It seems that people that fall in to this are not listening to everything the prophets say, but only what feeds their OCD behavior. Church leaders have also talked about not being to hard on ourselves, to forgive ourselves and know that God loves us and is very forgiving and wants us to succeed. We may make mistakes but as long as we are heading ourselves in the right direction and not give up God will bless us for the effort.

Yes but that is really a more recent development.  It was not so much that way when I grew up in the 60s and 70s.  But I can agree that some are more prone to hear the harsh and not the merciful.

Link to post

The thing that holds my interest the most in all of human suffering is that when we understand what troubles us that understanding does not automatically free us.  Understanding what emotions cause does not lead us into controlling them.

  • Like 1
  • Upvote 2
Link to post
8 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

For some reason, I keep thinking about this scripture in D&C 82:

"And now, verily I say unto you, I, the Lord, will not lay any sin to your charge; go your ways and sin no more; but unto that soul who sinneth shall the former sins return, saith the Lord your God."

I was taught that you hadn't really repented if you sin again, and that all the former guilt and condemnation return. If you've ever been in an LDS 12-step program for "sexual sin," you see the depths of despair and shame from people who are "clean" (they haven't self-abused) for a year or more and then had a "relapse." I can't tell you how many times I heard people quote that scripture as they wept over what is, in the end, as minor a "sin" as you can imagine; they thought all the sin had returned, and it was like starting over. So, no, I'm not buying this belief that there's nothing in LDS teaching or culture that contributes to "scrupulosity."

I don't disagree that LDS teachings (God's teachings) can contribute to it.  Like it or not theses teachings are from God.  But like Joseph Smith said "I teach them correct principles and allow them to govern themselves."
We govern ourselves by not letting our inability to follow them perfectly  cause us to despair and give up on the Church or on ourselves. There are millions of imperfect church members who are able to do this. 

Link to post
31 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

For some reason, I keep thinking about this scripture in D&C 82:

"And now, verily I say unto you, I, the Lord, will not lay any sin to your charge; go your ways and sin no more; but unto that soul who sinneth shall the former sins return, saith the Lord your God."

I was taught that you hadn't really repented if you sin again, and that all the former guilt and condemnation return. If you've ever been in an LDS 12-step program for "sexual sin," you see the depths of despair and shame from people who are "clean" (they haven't self-abused) for a year or more and then had a "relapse." I can't tell you how many times I heard people quote that scripture as they wept over what is, in the end, as minor a "sin" as you can imagine; they thought all the sin had returned, and it was like starting over. So, no, I'm not buying this belief that there's nothing in LDS teaching or culture that contributes to "scrupulosity."

Totally agree....

Link to post
1 hour ago, JAHS said:

I wonder how many have left the church because of this "disorder". 

I haven’t read the whole thread but it seems like the disorder would more likely compel one to stay than leave that which they obsessively observe out of fear or compulsion.   It seems like most with the disorder would be too afraid or guilt ridden to leave.  If they do leave the church, then they probably didn’t really have the disorder, or have been treated and overcome it sufficiently.

Link to post
24 minutes ago, MiserereNobis said:

Does the LDS church have any teachings on this?

Catholicism has long understood and dealt with what we call "scruples."

Here's our definition from the Catholic Encyclopedia (1907):

I like how it says scruples does not have spiritual benefit, but is in fact an evil.

There are lots of directions and advice given to confessors (the priest who hears your confession) to help people suffering from scruples. It ranges from forbidding the reading of certain types of books, such as books that focus on rigorous asceticism, and to the prescribing of certain harmless pleasures. It is also important to teach about grace and forgiveness.

I attend a parish that offers the traditional sacraments, and I have heard a sermon or two about scruples. I assume that there are some who suffer from it in the parish and Father knows from the confessional. I could see someone drawn to the traditional sacraments being more prone to scruples.

Have you ever heard this specifically addressed in sacrament meeting or general conference before?

President Nelson spoke about this in a great talk called  Perfection Pending.   Here are some excerpts from it:

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Keeping this commandment can be a concern because each of us is far from perfect, both spiritually and temporally. Reminders come repeatedly. We may lock keys inside the car, or even forget where the car is parked. And not infrequently we walk intently from one part of the house to another, only to forget the reason for the errand.
When comparing one’s personal performance with the supreme standard of the Lord’s expectation, the reality of imperfection can at times be depressing. My heart goes out to conscientious Saints who, because of their shortcomings, allow feelings of depression to rob them of happiness in life.

We all need to remember: men are that they might have joy—not guilt trips! We also need to remember that the Lord gives no commandments that are impossible to obey. But sometimes we fail to comprehend them fully.

The process of perfection includes challenges to overcome and steps to repentance that may be very painful.  There is a proper place for chastisement in the molding of character, for we know that “whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.”

Mortal perfection can be achieved as we try to perform every duty, keep every law, and strive to be as perfect in our sphere as our Heavenly Father is in his. If we do the best we can, the Lord will bless us according to our deeds and the desires of our hearts.
The process of perfection includes challenges to overcome and steps to repentance that may be very painful.  There is a proper place for chastisement in the molding of character, for we know that “whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.”

Mortal perfection can be achieved as we try to perform every duty, keep every law, and strive to be as perfect in our sphere as our Heavenly Father is in his. If we do the best we can, the Lord will bless us according to our deeds and the desires of our hearts.

People have never failed to follow Jesus because his standards were imprecise or insufficiently high. Quite to the contrary. Some have disregarded his teachings because they were viewed as being too precise or impractically high! Yet such lofty standards, when earnestly pursued, produce great inner peace and incomparable joy.

There is no other individual to compare with Jesus Christ, nor is there any other exhortation equal to his sublime expression of hope: “I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.”

This divine entreaty is consistent with the fact that, as begotten children of heavenly parents, we are endowed with the potential to become like them, just as mortal children may become like their mortal parents.

The Lord restored his church to help us prepare for perfection. Paul said that the Savior placed in the Church Apostles, prophets, and teachers, “for the perfecting of the saints, … for the edifying of the body of Christ:

“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”

The perfect man described in Paul’s quotation is the completed person—teleios—the glorified soul!

Moroni taught how to gain this glorious objective. His instruction stands in any age as an antidote for depression and a prescription for joy. I echo his plea: “Come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; … love God with all your might, mind and strength … [Then] ye may be perfect in Christ, … holy, [and] without spot.”
Meanwhile, brothers and sisters, let us do the best we can and try to improve each day. When our imperfections appear, we can keep trying to correct them. We can be more forgiving of flaws in ourselves and among those we love. We can be comforted and forbearing. The Lord taught, “Ye are not able to abide the presence of God now … ; wherefore, continue in patience until ye are perfected.”

We need not be dismayed if our earnest efforts toward perfection now seem so arduous and endless. Perfection is pending. It can come in full only after the Resurrection and only through the Lord. It awaits all who love him and keep his commandments. It includes thrones, kingdoms, principalities, powers, and dominions. It is the end for which we are to endure. It is the eternal perfection that God has in store for each of us."

 

  • Like 3
  • Upvote 1
Link to post
31 minutes ago, JAHS said:

I don't disagree that LDS teachings (God's teachings) can contribute to it.  Like it or not theses teachings are from God.  But like Joseph Smith said "I teach them correct principles and allow them to govern themselves."
We govern ourselves by not letting our inability to follow them perfectly  cause us to despair and give up on the Church or on ourselves. There are millions of imperfect church members who are able to do this. 

And you wonder why we may think LDS teachings aggravate this condition and may even cause it?  But no, YOU think these teachings are from God.  Like it or not, they just might likely not be from God.

  • Like 3
Link to post
1 hour ago, JAHS said:

I have these same feelings sometimes also. Guilt can be a normal and healthy feeling if not taken to extreme. It helps us to realize when changes need to be made and compels us to make the change. I also balance these feelings with the feelings that I know God has for me which keeps me going and not give up on myself.

but as a kid or teen you don't know anything about the differences between guilt or shame or "extreme guilt" it's all the same.

  • Upvote 2
Link to post

The ideas that this life is a test, that God is judging not only our actions but also our thoughts, and that we must be constantly wary of the influence of Satan and his minions who seek to tempt us and imprison us in chains of sin...these concepts are scrupulous in nature. 

Compare them to being a person who happens to be alive, who has their own life to live as they see fit.

Compare them to simply seeking to live a moral and meaningful life.

Of course Mormonism is not alone in its scrupulousness, neither are religions. All sorts of ideologies perpetuate scrupulosity and vice versa.

Link to post
24 minutes ago, Duncan said:

but as a kid or teen you don't know anything about the differences between guilt or shame or "extreme guilt" it's all the same.

It is not all experienced the same though.  They may not intellectually know the difference, but they will experience the two differently. Guilt is a good thing.  It tells us that we made a mistake and need to repent.  Toxic shame, on the other hand, tells us that we are a mistake - and once that belief forms it manifests throughout our life in toxic ways.

There is nothing wrong with teaching right from wrong behavior, which can naturally causes one to feel guilt.  That is a good thing.  It is when they don’t feel guilt that we worry.

Edited by pogi
  • Like 1
  • Upvote 2
Link to post
2 minutes ago, Duncan said:

That's the problem though people with OCD do listen to everything the prophets and leaders say and it slowly grows into an issue and you only learn later on like this Katie Langston did, that you have to filter out messages but the filtering out process takes its toll for sure. As a kid you do we get the message that we are allowed to make mistakes in church? no, it's "don't look up sin with the least degree of allowance" and "don't lust" and don't do this or that and look at this guy or that girl or whatever. Perfectionism and trying to do everything right all the time takes its toll on people, it's a slow process though. You can hear conflicting messages in church and who or who do you believe? Nowadays you hear about "repentance isn't a backplan, it is the plan" well, I can assure you we never heard that phrase when I was a teen in the church. Repentance was seen a like tortuous ordeal, God was out to get you and you HAD to speak to the bishop about anything and he needed to be involved in your life and helping you repent and it was black or white. Sin was sin, regardless of the enormity of it, which led to this "crushed banana" "ruined cake" object lessons, regardless or who or how the banana or cake got crushed, it was crushed.  I think the church has had to learn some very difficult lessons and I honestly think it is its own worst enemy.

This is all true and its too bad many members are not able to filter things out as you say.
In Church meetings speakers are talking to the whole congregation on certain subjects,  and so they have to cover all God has said on a subject.
But certain things they say might not apply to us as an individual or our particular circumstances at the time they say it, but we still can learn something.

  • Like 1
Link to post
15 minutes ago, Teancum said:

And you wonder why we may think LDS teachings aggravate this condition and may even cause it?  But no, YOU think these teachings are from God.  Like it or not, they just might likely not be from God.

Well there's the main difference. I believe they are from God and I also know God loves me and will not let me fail if I don't give up.

Link to post
Just now, pogi said:

It is not all experienced the same though.  They may not intellectually know the difference, but they will experience the two differently. Guilt is a good thing.  It tells us that we made a mistake and need to repent.  Toxic shame, on the other hand, tells us that we are a mistake - and once that belief firms it remain fears throughout our life in toxic ways.

There is nothing wrong with teaching right from wrong behavior, which can naturally causes one to feel guilt.  That is a good thing.  It is when they don’t feel guilt that we worry.

when know that now though but I never heard as a teen ager and you would need to know intellectually the difference in order to seperate out what's good and what isn't. I see this issue with new converts, marriages, new jobs, "the honeymoon phase" they don't want to do wrong, you want all to go well for yourself, for others but eventually something happens and you feel bad or guilt or whatever and then that's when bad times could happen-for some it could develop into OCD, they don't want to appear to be struggling until you get a Katie Langston who left the church after a mission and became a Lutheran Minister

Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...