Obsessive Disorder and Religion
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) affects up to 2.1% of adults and features pervasive and intrusive thoughts that lead to repetitive uncontrollable behaviors aimed to reduce anxiety (APA, 2000). Further, these thoughts and behaviors impede and disrupt daily living and cause marked distress in the lives of the sufferer. The recurrent thoughts often center on fear of contamination, harming self or others, and illness (Himle, Chatters, Taylor, and Nguyen, 2011). Those who experience the compulsive behaviors associated with OCD report feeling as though they cannot stop or control the urge to perform the compulsive behavior and that the urge is alien or from outside conscious control. Behaviors often involve washing the hands or body, repeatedly checking, and mental acts such as counting and repeated prayers. (Himle, Chatters, Taylor, and Nguyen, 2011) According to Obsessive-Compulsive Working Group (1997, 2001, as cited by Abramowitz, Deacon, Woods, and Tolin, 2004) OCD can be classified into six domains. The domains include inflated responsibility, beliefs about the importance of thoughts, importance of controlling thoughts, overestimation of threats, intolerance of uncertainty, and perfectionism. Inflated responsibility involve excessive feelings of responsibility for actions seen as harmful or failing to take action to prevent harm, whereas the domain of importance of thought involved attributing excessive authority or power to unwanted thoughts and beliefs. Similarly, the importance of controlling thoughts entailed the belief that one should be in control of every thought at all times. The unrealistic belief that unlikely events will always occur and bring with them extreme consequences characterized the domain of overestimation of threats, and the assumption that various benign situations are dangerous and therefore must be avoided characterized the intolerance of uncertainty domain. The final domain, perfectionism, was characterized by the exaggerated belief that mistakes are intolerable and therefore extreme measures are taken to avoid making mistakes on even every-day tasks. There are many sub-categories of OCD represented in these six domains, one of which centers on various aspects of religious beliefs and practices. The following is a brief description of religious OCD (ROCD), an investigation ROCD as represented in various religious groups with specific attention given to Orthodox Judaism, a review of treatment within the context of religious groups, and finally an examination of the clinical implications of working with individuals from Jewish believers living with ROCD.
Definition and Description of Religious Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
According to Siev, Baer and Minichello (2011), about 33% of individuals who have OCD have a religious sub-type called Scrupulosity. Scrupulosity usually involves intense fear of breaking religious rules and violating religious standards. Hepworth, Simonds, and...