On Wanting to Hide the Problem of Scruples

 via  WikiCommons , CC0

via WikiCommons, CC0

This is an important point for those of us who experience scruples and anxiety in our spiritual lives. From A Thousand Frightening Fantasies: Understanding and Healing Scrupulosity and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder by William Van Ornum, Ph.D.:

Scrup/OCD embarrasses them. It has taken sufferers of OCD longer to "come out of the closet" than people with other disorders. For example, most of us understand depression. Alcoholism is an extreme of normal drinking. Because of the strange and peculiar nature of many OCD symptoms, sufferers hesitate to acknowledge them. I have even heard of cases of people in therapy for several years who never mentioned their OCD to their therapist. Instead, they talked about the many problems of their life. People with OCD or Scrup/OCD frequently think others will judge them as weird or crazy. Because of this, they guard their secret emotional life.

We live in an age that deemphasizes or disrespects traditional religious beliefs. As a group, mental health professionals lack openness to religious experience. Some brand even normal religious practices as sick. Because people with Scrup/OCD know this, is it any wonder that they remain secretive? (34)

No, it's not a wonder. Catholics already get a bad rap for their Catholic Guilt; many of us would rather not confirm the stereotype by sharing about our scruples.

The people we're supposed to look to - priests and medical professionals - are ill-equipped. Many priests lack training in helping the scrupulous, and the therapist who could help a Catholic faithfully (faithfully!) navigate Catholic waters is a rarity. 

And no, we don't want to be ridiculed or poo-poohed.

Yet, this is no excuse for not seeking help. The very act of discussing our scrupulosity with our priest or medical professionals raises awareness. So talk about it. If they are unable or unwilling to help, find someone who will. But be brave and seek help!