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Scrupulosity


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27 minutes ago, JAHS said:

My heart goes out to conscientious Saints who, because of their shortcomings, allow feelings of depression to rob them of happiness in life.

It seems that "conscientious Saints" would be the equivalent to someone suffering "scruples."

28 minutes ago, JAHS said:

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.

I think someone suffering from scruples would focus on the first part (can be achieved) and ignore the last part (in our sphere).

Thanks for sharing the article!

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1 hour 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".  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?

This is an interesting topic.  Here's one thought that came immediately to mind: I wonder if our collective, but largely latent, of Alma 39 has created some problems:

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1 And now, my son, I have somewhat more to say unto thee than what I said unto thy brother; for behold, have ye not observed the steadiness of thy brother, his faithfulness, and his diligence in keeping the commandments of God? Behold, has he not set a good example for thee?

2 For thou didst not give so much heed unto my words as did thy brother, among the people of the Zoramites. Now this is what I have against thee; thou didst go on unto boasting in thy strength and thy wisdom.

3 And this is not all, my son. Thou didst do that which was grievous unto me; for thou didst forsake the ministry, and did go over into the land of Siron among the borders of the Lamanites, after the harlot Isabel.

4 Yea, she did steal away the hearts of many; but this was no excuse for thee, my son. Thou shouldst have tended to the ministry wherewith thou wast entrusted.

5 Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost?

6 For behold, if ye deny the Holy Ghost when it once has had place in you, and ye know that ye deny it, behold, this is a sin which is unpardonable; yea, and whosoever murdereth against the light and knowledge of God, it is not easy for him to obtain forgiveness; yea, I say unto you, my son, that it is not easy for him to obtain a forgiveness.

7 And now, my son, I would to God that ye had not been guilty of so great a crime. I would not dwell upon your crimes, to harrow up your soul, if it were not for your good.
...
11 Suffer not yourself to be led away by any vain or foolish thing; suffer not the devil to lead away your heart again after those wicked harlots. Behold, O my son, how great iniquity ye brought upon the Zoramites; for when they saw your conduct they would not believe in my words.

I generally dislike the notion of assigning gradations to sin, as such an exercise seems to lead to rationalizations/justifications for sins deemed "lesser."

Consider this article:

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How we understand Corianton’s sin matters, given that Alma is placing it third in line behind murder and denying the Spirit. The fact that Corianton’s sin is commonly viewed as sexual immorality has ramifications. As Michael R. Ash (an I think fairly orthodox LDS writer) argues, “This verse seems to be the impetus for the LDS belief that sexual transgressions are second only to “murder” in the eyes of the Lord.”

Reading this verse, many people have developed (implicitly or explicitly) a hierarchy of sin which goes something like this:

  1. Denying he Holy Spirit (a sin which Jesus says “will not be forgiven” in Matthew 12:30-32, Mark 3:28-30, and Luke 12:8-10)
  2. Murder
  3. Sexual immorality
  4. Other sins (which would presumably not all be #4 in seriousness, so let’s say #4 to #Infinity).

I think this reading does a lot of damage – in part because it may cause people who are often already feeling shame, guilt, and godly sorrow for their sin to feel shame above what is necessary to spur them to reconcile with Christ.

But what if that reading of Alma 39 is all wrong? Is Alma really saying sexual immorality is third place in some scorecard of sin? Or is he saying something else?

My argument is that the “abomination” here is not just the liaison with Isabel, but Corianton’s wholesale abandonment of his ministry to engage in this liaison, the sinful example he set, and the terrible spiritual consequences this had for the Zoramites he was supposed to be preaching to. It was the “leading away” (which, of course, was part and parcel with the immorality).

This really resonates with me.

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I think there is more than one way to interpret this verse – I can certainly see, given verse 4’s emphasis on Corianton’s affair with Isabel, why people come away with the interpretation they usually do. And I agree that sexual sin is serious; I would never want to see like an apologist for breaking the sacred law of chastity.

However, I think interpreting Corianton’s sin as leading people away from Christ is much more consistent with the text itself, as well as what we know about Heavenly Father. Below, I will outline seven reasons why.

#1: In context, it makes more grammatical sense

In verse 5, Alma’s “abomination” is a descriptor for “these things.” “Things” is plural – not singular. What are the things, plural? ...

In context it becomes clear that “these things” references several failings of Corianton Alma has just finished listing, and not just his sexual immorality, as serious as that was. In fact, Alma contrasts Corianton’s sin with that of others who also had sex with Isabel outside of marriage, emphasizing Corianton’s “ministry” as a key distinguishing feature of their failings and his.

...

Alma is impugning Corianton not just for sexual immorality, but for the fact that in seeking out sexual immorality – very intentionally, with someone who he paid to have sex with him by the sounds of it – he abandoned his own ministerial work among the Zoramites, the mission to save their souls.

I’m also not sure that we shouldn’t also include the sentences even before that – i.e. Corianton refusing to listen to his father the prophet, and his boasting. But let’s go for a more conservative reading, that’s still true to the grammatical structure of the verses:

“These things” = “most abominable”

“These things” = Forsaking the ministry (to go after Isabel)

#2: Alma diagnoses the main consequences of Corianton’s sin as hurting the missionary work

Alma’s words shortly thereafter make clear that it’s not just that Corianton abandoned his ministry for Isabel, but that in so doing he led away others from the gospel.

In diagnosing the symptoms of Corianton’s sin-sickness, Alma doesn’t simply say “You have gone outside of the bounds of your (future or present) marriage.” Nor does he say “You contributed to Isabel’s breaking the law of chastity.” Instead, he identifies as the main cause of Corianton’s sin, in v. 11,

“how great iniquity ye brought upon the Zoramites; for when they saw your conduct they would not believe my words.”

Whether the Zoramites saw Corianton’s words as hypocrisy (i.e. the Nephites are preaching chastity, while one of their missionaries is off with a prostitute) or whether it caused them to have even less faith in the authority of outside preachers, for whatever reason Corianton’s dalliance with Isabel led potentially repentant Zoramites to refuse the gospel being preached by the prophet.

Alma’s main focus here is how Corianton’s sin affected the ministry, not solely how it affected Corianton’s or Isabel’s chastity. Not that sexual sin is ever really isolated, but in this case it’s clear that what Alma is pointing to is not isolated to sex between two people. It’s about the broader web of relationships Corianton damaged as he abandoned missionary work to go sin, and essentially make a mockery of what his father was preaching.

If this was just about sexual sin, Alma’s sort of missing the wrong thing here as a father – he should be preaching about chastity and marriage. What father goes off about missionary success/failure if he’s mainly concerned his son has violated the law of chastity?

...

#3: Corianton’s amends match a sin of leading others astray more than solely the sin of immorality

Repentance often involves making amends. Of course, there’s not always amends to make, and what we’re getting at is more a changed way of living, but “amends” is a useful starting point for thinking about repentance, especially if your sin involved someone else. You stole a candy bar, you give it back and say sorry. And for us grown-ups, you harm someone’s feelings, you apologize; you caused harm to someone else, you bear your burden to undo the harm as much as is in your power. That’s what a changed person does.

Which is another reason Chapter 39 and for that matter 42 don’t really make sense from a “sex is the third worst sin” reading of Alma 39. Alma does suggest amends for Corianton’s “abominable” sin, but those amends fit better to the picture of Corianton having led others astray than just Corianton having engaged in unlawful sexual intimacy.

In verse 12-13, Alma, having pointed out the sin, makes the call for repentance,

“do good, lest [you] lead away the hearts of many people to destruction…refrain from your iniquities…[T]urn to the Lord with all your mind, might, and strength; that ye lead away the hearts of no to do wickedly; but rather return unto them, and acknowledge your faults and the wrong which ye have done.”

Corianton’s amends were to do good, turn to God, not “lead away” other people to do wicked (this gets mentioned not once but twice), and acknowledge what he has done to the Zoramites he was supposed to preach to.

...

#4: The promised reward fits the repentance

On that note, the end of Alma’s words to Corianton take on poignant meaning.

We often say “the punishment fits the crime.” Here the reward fits the repentance. Alma gives Corianton a significant promise, confident in his son’s repentance – and that promise is not sexual purity or celestial marriage.

In 42:31 Alma concludes his treatise, “O my son, ye are called of God to preach the word unto this people. And now, my son, go thy way, declare the word with truth and soberness, that thou mayest bring souls unto repentance, that the great plan of mercy may have claim upon them. God grant unto you even according to my words. Amen.”

Where Corianton had led people to death, he will now lead them to mercy and life. He will set right what he broke. A promise which indeed does come true, as we see in Alma 49:30, which credits the peace and prosperity of the Church to how they heed “the word of God, which was declared by Helaman, and Shiblon, and Corianton…

#5: Alma compares Corianton’s sin to his own of leading others away from Christ

Alma explicitly compares Corianton’s sin to his own, using phrases and ideas drawn from his description of his own sins in Alma 36 (a speech given to Helaman, but which Corianton very well may have heard). We see this in a few different ways.

Harrowed up: In 39:7 Alma uses the phrase “harrow up your soul” in reference to his words against Corianton’s sin. In Chapter 36, Alma used this phrase describing his own feelings when confronting his pre-conversion sin:  “my soul was harrowed up” (36:12). This is very specific and brutal imagery – it seems unlikely this is purely coincidental.  

Hiding sins: In 39:8 Alma warns Corianton “ye cannot hide your crimes from God” and that they would “stand as a testimony against [him] at the last day.” In 36:15, Alma wants to be “banished and become extinct” so he will not be “brought to stand in the presence of my God.” The Book of Mormon often connects “last day” ideas with standing before God’s judgment (see Moroni 10 for example). So in both chapters, we get this idea of someone wanting to not be seen by God due to their terrible sin – an impossibility.

Led away – In 39:12, Alma implies Corianton “lead away” the people. This is of course exactly what Alma did. In 36:14, he even says he had “led them [God’s children]away unto destruction” and even compares it to murder (more on that in a second).

As far as we know, Alma the younger never committed sexual sin in his days prior to repentance (although who knows). But we do know most definitely that he led people away from the gospel and the Church – he spoke and acted against the gospel, and his influence seems to have been particularly potent given that he was the prophet Alma the elder’s son. The fact that Alma compares his own sin, in several ways, to Corianton’s suggests that he sees Corianton’s sin through the lens of his own – that of leading people astray.

#6: The rest of the chapters also fit the sin of leading people away very well

There are 91 verses in our modern pagination of Alma’s words to Corianton (Alma 39-42). Verse 1-14 are really Alma diagnosing the sin, consequences, and amends of Corianton’s iniquity. The other 77 verses are primarily Alma correcting doctrinal questions and misunderstandings of Corianton, primarily about judgment, mercy, and justice. There is way more doctrinal correction here than behavioral correction (but of course the two are intimately interconnected- metanoia, repentance, involves a new view of the world, of sin, and of God – thus of doctrine).

...

I think it also makes sense, however, as a response to sexual sin which has led people away from the gospel. Alma makes a very poignant point that “No, you’re not going to be fine in the afterlife because God is loving and will just erase your sin.” But he also makes the poignant point, “Neither are the people you led away – wickedness, which you have led them into, is serious business. You’ve brought misery on them.” Alma shows in many ways how important the work of saving souls is.

In all these ways – the description of sin, the diagnosis of its consequences, the amends, the promise after repentance, the comparison to Alma’s own spiritual journey – I think the text more easily accommodates a view that Corianton’s “most abominable” sin was leading people away from life-saving truth, in his pursuit of immorality, rather than solely or primarily immorality itself. What Corianton did – and what Alma is criticizing – was rather different than, let’s say, two teenagers “in love” making a very unwise choice to not wait until marriage. Corianton’s choice had a much broader influence.

#7: It just makes more sense

In this final point, I go beyond a simple “this fits better with the text” analysis to my own theological opinions, and here I realize I’m more out on a limb, but perhaps my thoughts will have some small value.

I think we get into very dangerous waters when we try to fix an absolute ranking to how God sees sins using our flawed human brains. I’m not at all convinced that we have an accurate understanding of God’s views on the magnitude of sins. Furthermore, any degree of sin fails at the standard of perfection we would need to earn eternal life on our own merits (Romans 3:23). So I think trying to rank sins based on our flawed human understanding is foolhardy.

...

Ranking sins is a somewhat shady areas of theology, trying to read the Lord’s Mind. But if we’re going purely off my common sense, I would say that as serious as what Corianton did was, there are other equally-and-also-more serious kinds of abominations one can commit in life.

Why This Matters

You might think this does not matter and we should not even bother with ranking sins. I would tend to agree, except we do, all the time. We try to gauge the relative seriousness of sins, and I think whether or not we can ever accurately do that without God’s omniscience I do think the value of discussing it is worthwhile in clarifying more about what we are repenting from and why. Understanding sin can help us understand why to flee from it.

I also think in this particular case, our common interpretation of this chapter as fornication-is-the-third-worst-sin is a very damaging interpretation, and also one that forecloses some of the potential of Alma 39. I’d like to explain what I mean by both.

Damaging Interpretation: Church members who break the law of chastity often understand (at least on some level) what the law of chastity is, and that it is serious. We have varying degrees of testimony and commitment to that sacred principle, but at least on some level people “get it” intellectually, whether or not it has percolated their soul fully. They get that it’s bad, or they wouldn’t be confessing to a Bishop. Often they “get it” so well that they get “it” way too much – they feel worthless or despondent over their sin.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize this approach to oneself is incredibly unproductive spiritually, as countless general authorities have told us and yet still does not always sink in. Shame really is not an effective prod to get people to God. Godly sorrow, yes. Shame, no.

Any addiction counselor will in fact tell you that shame often has the opposite effect, driving people further into negative behaviors as a way of gaining temporary respite from feelings of shame.

...

In conclusion, I don’t think Alma 39 is about sexual immorality alone. I don’t think it fits the text too well, and I don’t think it’s terribly helpful or logical. I do think sexual immorality was a big part of what Corianton did – it was a driver of his abandoning the ministry (although not the only one – apparently he also had significant pride issues), and it was a serious problem for the ministry, but the big issue here was not just an affair or infidelity, it was infidelity to the gospel work of saving souls.

Read the whole article.

Thanks,

-Smac

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10 minutes ago, 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.

Right from wrong is not the same as an intricate ideological instructions for righteousness. The latter can generate myriad laws to transgress and thus a false sense of guilt where there is no actual guilt, just failure to live up to the system's expectations.

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7 minutes ago, JAHS said:

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.

it's tough if you give a talk and say "5 ways to ..." to someone with OCD or someone going along that path it's a checklist mentality and now I have 5 other things to do BUT if you don't give some examples and leave it for the congregation to figure out for themselves how to apply that may also feed their OCD, because they may not get the right message. I vividly recall , like 20 years now as a EQP sitting in YSA next to a guy who had just come home early from his mission to France. I didn't know him hardly well at all, didn't know why he came home and he wasn't from here, not sure what really he was doing here. The Bishopric member gave a talk about Justice/Mercy , well he didn't get around to the mercy part he strictly focused on Justice and I could literally feel this guy's spirit just die inside, just be crushed and we haven't seen him since that sunday. We tried everything to get him going but he didn't reciprocate and we is still on the rolls but hasn't been active since that time. 

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6 minutes ago, MiserereNobis said:

Catholicism teaches that scruples leads to despair or indulgence in sin. I think the latter comes from simply giving up. I mean, if you're going to feel terrible and guilty anyways, might as well have a reason to, perhaps. Or maybe the despair leads to the indulgence.

In any case, what a terrible thing to suffer.

I guess people use the term differently.  This is what I read:

“Scrupulosity is a modern-day psychological problem that echoes a traditional use of the term scruples in a religious context, e.g. by Catholics, to mean obsessive concern with one's own sins and compulsive performance of religious devotion.“

I interpreted that to mean compulsive devotion and a sort of perfectionistic observance, only to be tortured by their own imperfect and fallible nature.

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And here I thought only priests and Jewish moms were good at spreading guilt . 😬

I suppose we could accept the alternate scripture. 

2 Nephi 28

8 And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.

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7 minutes ago, pogi said:

I guess people use the term differently.  This is what I read:

“Scrupulosity is a modern-day psychological problem that echoes a traditional use of the term scruples in a religious context, e.g. by Catholics, to mean obsessive concern with one's own sins and compulsive performance of religious devotion.“

I interpreted that to mean compulsive devotion and a sort of perfectionistic observance, only to be tortured by their own imperfect and fallible nature.

I think we totally agree.

I was responding to your idea that those who suffer from scruples/scrupulosity would not leave religion. I was pointing out that Catholicism teaches that scruples can lead to despair within the religion or an indulgence in sin outside of it, meaning that they choose to leave religion to get a respite from scruples.

So I think we are on the same page as to what scruples/scrupulosity means :) 

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5 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

Right from wrong is not the same as an intricate ideological instructions for righteousness. The latter can generate myriad laws to transgress and thus a false sense of guilt where there is no actual guilt, just failure to live up to the system's expectations.

I don’t know what you mean by “intricate ideological instructions”.  Do you mean commandments?

It sounds like you are simply suggesting that our morals are wrong and yours are right.

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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:

With this disorder specifically, not a ton but I would assume it would disproportionately be found in said population. From my experience with people in faith transition or who've left (in my office....these are not internet rendition of stories), they're more likely to have a disposition of some sort to black and white thinking and what I call "checklist jesus." There's often less flexibility in their thought processes too. I remember talking to one person who held a rigid view of what it looked like to be LDS. I named off several labels and descriptions of me and noted at the end that I was very happily and active in my faith. It couldn't compute for them because it didn't fit within their paradigm of the religion and their experiences in it. At some point, based on what they heard, I would have to be unhappy in my religion.

1 hour ago, JAHS said:

Was she affected by the example of her parents? Was this just part of her personality? 

 

Yes and sort of. The first one is a definite yes because we all are to some degree or another affected by our parents. It's impossible not to. They're our first attachment figures, are fundamental in our early development, when our minds were still very pliable and forming long term patterns of thought and behaviors. And Sort of in the sense that she may have had predispositions that made it more likely to lead to a disorder if given the right circumstances (anxiousness for example). This does mean she was fate to Scrupulosity, but most disorders have at least a little bit of a genetic correlation to some degree. 

 

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Can members with this same kind of OCD personality still thrive as members of the Church?

Yes....but not in the mode of belief they were in at first. Recently I talked to another person who's susceptible to black and white thinking that would grow anxious and scrupulous with their religious practice when active. I noted that just because we're raised in the same religion does not mean we practice said faith the same. Usually for black an white thinkers the idea that there are other messages and ways to practice ones faith at first is a novel concept. It's hard for them to fathom at first and there's usually several cognitive distortions that push the idea right back out. But with practice, helping them better confront and understand their thought patterns, greater allowance to explore and better understand themselves and their spiritual experiences v. religious expectations, etc they can improve and find a more comfortable relationship with religion. 

That said, I think sometimes that experience will need to entail periods where there connection to the church is a LOT looser...maybe to the point where they don't actively think of themselves as LDS in the first place.   

 

Could say more, but I have to go.

With luv,

BD

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2 hours 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".  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?

 

I think people with mental illness / mental disorder can thrive as members of the Church, but as with all agency-depriving conditions that might plague us, the thriving or not may not always be a matter of their choosing. 

Edited by CV75
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2 hours ago, jkwilliams said:

The bigger question is whether the church fosters this kind of thinking. It's not surprising that people like her would feel overwhelmed with guilt after growing up in a religion that, consciously or not, emphasizes good works over grace. Blaming "scrupulosity" on this person's family or personality is certainly the easy way to look at it. The reality is more complicated. 

The scrupulosity in this case is a diagnosis, not an inculpation. The same if she were diagnosed with a personality disorder. To indict such a person would be as irresponsible (to put it nicely) as blaming the Church. I've seen people with mental illness and personality disorder thrive in the Church, and leave it.

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2 hours 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. 

Guilt and scrupulosity are two very different things. Was this survey about dysfunctional, pathological, or debilitating guilt?

Of course, scrupulosity would not manifest as such outside a religious context so it would show up virtually exclusively in a religious community/context. We can stamp out scrupulosity by stamping out religion, I suppose, but it may well manifest as something else or get passed on to a more religious generation.

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4 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

I'm not sharing this to say the church is bad, or my experience is just like everyone else's. It's just not particularly helpful, IMO, to ascribe mental health issues to people who struggle with feelings of guilt and inadequacy. 

Unless they are competently diagnosed as such, as brought up in the OP.

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19 minutes ago, strappinglad said:

And here I thought only priests and Jewish moms were good at spreading guilt . 😬

I suppose we could accept the alternate scripture. 

2 Nephi 28

8 And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.

i'd say that is for people who don't want to repent but OCD is thinking you can't repent, you want to but are incapable of it

I heard a mission president say once the people that need to hear the message usually don't hear it but the people that don't need are the ones that do hear it

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33 minutes ago, MiserereNobis said:

I was responding to your idea that those who suffer from scruples/scrupulosity would not leave religion.

I guess I was coming from the idea that it would likely be hard break a true compulsion of observance.  
 

I was thinking of it like a compulsion to wash hands out of a pathological fear of germs.  The fear of germs doesn’t usually lead one to stop washing their hands due to high despair, but leads one to be even more observant of hand washing.

It seems like leaving the faith and stoping their compulsive observance cold turkey, without any treatment would lead to unbearable despair without a complete paradigm shift from their black and white thinking.

If they have no problem leaving their compulsive behavior, it doesn’t sound like a true pathological compulsion.
 

Edited by pogi
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1 hour ago, MiserereNobis said:
1 hour ago, JAHS said:

My heart goes out to conscientious Saints who, because of their shortcomings, allow feelings of depression to rob them of happiness in life.

It seems that "conscientious Saints" would be the equivalent to someone suffering "scruples."

I think most saints are conscientious without taking it to the next level where they suffer from scruples. It's the second part of that statement where members get into trouble.

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3 hours 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".  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?

 

In all the Standard Works, the most extreme example of an individual raked with the worst possible consciousness of his own shame and guilt before God for his sins is the prophet Alma’s own account of the pains of hell he experienced prior to coming unto Christ for a remission of his sins and complete redemption. One has to wonder what Alma did — or didn’t do — to make the total forgiveness and clearing of conscience he received continue on unabated without again being ensnared therein for the rest his life? It could be said Alma had a bout of scruples in its most overwhelming and debilitating form, yet he emerged from the experience of being a damned soul in hell with a healing of conscience as dramatic as it was eternally complete.

11 And the angel spake more things unto me, which were heard by my brethren, but I did not hear them; for when I heard the words—If thou wilt be destroyed of thyself, seek no more to destroy the church of God—I was struck with such great fear and amazement lest perhaps I should be destroyed, that I fell to the earth and I did hear no more.

12 But I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins.

13 Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments.

14 Yea, and I had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction; yea, and in fine so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror.

15 Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds.

16 And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul.

17 And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.

18 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.

19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.

20 And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!

21 Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.

22 Yea, methought I saw, even as our father Lehi saw, God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praisingtheir God; yea, and my soul did long to be there.

23 But behold, my limbs did receive their strength again, and I stood upon my feet, and did manifest unto the people that I had been born of God. (Alma 36)

Edited by teddyaware
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Just now, JAHS said:

I think most saints are conscientious without taking it to the next level where they suffer from scruples. It's the second part of that statement where members get into trouble.

Right. I didn't mean to imply that standard LDS aren't conscientious. I guess I was just looking for an equivalent term in LDS-speak to describe someone who struggles with this.

Us Catholics have a name, category, and hierarchy for everything. We're very taxonomic, ha. I think it stems from the Aristotelian influences on Aquinas and then Aquinas's influence on the Church in the middle ages. Dante is an excellent example of this. Everything fits somewhere, and if it doesn't, it's a mystery of faith 😁

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5 minutes ago, teddyaware said:

In all the Standard Works, the most extreme example of an individual raked with the worst possible consciousness of his own shame and guilt before God for his sins is the prophet Alma’s own account of the pains of hell he experienced prior to coming unto Christ for a remission of his sins and complete redemption. One has to wonder what Alma did — or didn’t do — to make the total forgiveness and clearing of conscience he received continue on unabated without again being ensnared therein for the rest his life? It could be said Alma had a bout of scruples in its most overwhelming and debilitating form, yet he emerged from the experience of being a damned soul in hell with a healing of conscience as dramatic as it was eternally complete.

11 And the angel spake more things unto me, which were heard by my brethren, but I did not hear them; for when I heard the words—If thou wilt be destroyed of thyself, seek no more to destroy the church of God—I was struck with such great fear and amazement lest perhaps I should be destroyed, that I fell to the earth and I did hear no more.

12 But I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins.

13 Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments.

14 Yea, and I had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction; yea, and in fine so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror.

15 Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds.

16 And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul.

17 And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.

18 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.

19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.

20 And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!

21 Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.

22 Yea, methought I saw, even as our father Lehi saw, God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praisingtheir God; yea, and my soul did long to be there.

23 But behold, my limbs did receive their strength again, and I stood upon my feet, and did manifest unto the people that I had been born of God. (Alma 36)

but most, if not all people are like Alma, they don't have an Angelic visitor, they need therapy or something to even come to accept the fact that they can be forgiven of their sins-and until their do they will punish themselves as I say in a myriad of ways

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I had a wonderful experience working at a local intensive outpatient OCD clinic 1-2 years ago. In all cases we would run the client through exposures where they were confronted with much of what makes them experience anxiety. On one extreme occasion, the CEO commented on how with one LDS client he had the two of them wash their hands in beer together. And yes, it was almost debilitating for the client. It was probably the most clinically invigorating 10 months I've ever had.

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11 minutes ago, teddyaware said:

In all the Standard Works, the most extreme example of an individual raked with the worst possible consciousness of his own shame and guilt before God for his sins is the prophet Alma’s own account of the pains of hell he experienced prior to coming unto Christ for a remission of his sins and complete redemption. One has to wonder what Alma did — or didn’t do — to make the total forgiveness and clearing of conscience he received continue on unabated without again being ensnared therein for the rest his life? It could be said Alma had a bout of scruples in its most overwhelming and debilitating form, yet he emerged from the experience of being a damned soul in hell with a healing of conscience as dramatic as it was eternally complete.

11 And the angel spake more things unto me, which were heard by my brethren, but I did not hear them; for when I heard the words—If thou wilt be destroyed of thyself, seek no more to destroy the church of God—I was struck with such great fear and amazement lest perhaps I should be destroyed, that I fell to the earth and I did hear no more.

12 But I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins.

13 Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments.

14 Yea, and I had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction; yea, and in fine so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror.

15 Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds.

16 And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul.

17 And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.

18 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.

19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.

20 And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!

21 Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.

22 Yea, methought I saw, even as our father Lehi saw, God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praisingtheir God; yea, and my soul did long to be there.

23 But behold, my limbs did receive their strength again, and I stood upon my feet, and did manifest unto the people that I had been born of God. (Alma 36)

I don't know the story of Alma apart from what you've posted here.

Did Alma actually commit grievous sins? If so, then this is not an example of scruples. Scruples are when you obsess over whether or not some little tiny thing is or is not a sin, when you feel huge guilt for something that is not worthy of guilt, when you are paralyzed from action for fear of sin, when you can only see a God of justice and no mercy, etc.

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8 minutes ago, Vanguard said:

I had a wonderful experience working at a local intensive outpatient OCD clinic 1-2 years ago. In all cases we would run the client through exposures where they were confronted with much of what makes them experience anxiety. On one extreme occasion, the CEO commented on how with one LDS client he had the two of them wash their hands in beer together. And yes, it was almost debilitating for the client. It was probably the most clinically invigorating 10 months I've ever had.

Our hand sanitizer at the County comes straight from a local distillery.  I think it is straight vodka.  The poor fella wouldn’t survive my job

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