Excerpts of Religious obsession studied; USU team develops treatment.
Eric seemed like a normal guy, but then when he hit 17 he started having "issues."
What happened if he kissed his girlfriend for more than one second? Would he still be worthy in God's eye? And perhaps, most importantly, would the Lord forgive him?
Eric was diagnosed with scrupulosity, a form of OCD involving religious or moral obsessions.
According to the International OCD Foundation, scrupulous individuals are "overly concerned that something they thought or did might be a sin or other violation of religious or moral doctrine."
The psychology department at Utah State University is currently seeking individuals struggling with unwanted, disturbing immoral thoughts — including unwanted sexual, blasphemous, or profane thoughts, excessive worry about honesty, excessive confession or excessive religious activity. The department wants those individuals to participate in a study assessing the effectiveness of a psychological treatment for these problems.
"We're the first lab to ever develop and test a treatment for scrupulosity," [John] Dehlin said.
"(They) have this very severe desire to follow their religion (or moral beliefs) with integrity and exactness. Their conscience is kind of heightened."
"What we try to do with people is help them see that trying to regulate these thoughts is part of what makes them so out of control and so disturbing," Twohig said. "So in a weird way ... as you try not to think of it, it occurs more often."
"Noting one's thoughts, feelings and urges for what they are; allow them to show up and then not letting those thoughts and feelings push them around," is the best way to get past this type of OCD, Twohig said.
Eric continued to take medications, but also sought out therapy, support groups and books to help cure him for his scrupulosity.
"I had to get to the point where I literally had to force myself not to confess sins, no matter what," Eric said.