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"That's So OCD!": A Qualitative Study Revealing Common Misconceptions About Christianity and OCD
The Research and Scholarship Symposium
  • Ruth Lowrie Markham, Cedarville University
  • Lynley G. Turkelson, Cedarville University
  • Kari E. Barnhill, Cedarville University
  • Sarah R. Denen, Cedarville University
Type of Submission
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder,
  • scrupulosity,
  • Christianity,
  • college students,
  • qualitative,
  • misconceptions
Although obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a relatively well-known psychological disorder, what many do not know is that 10%-33% of OCD cases are actually scrupulosity (Miller & Hedges, 2008). Scrupulosity (SC) is a subtype of OCD with obsessions and compulsions focused on religious and moral themes. Scrupulous individuals experience intrusive thoughts related to breaking religious or moral codes and compulsions manifest as religious observance that far exceeds normal religious requirement (i.e. excessive prayer, repeated confessing, etc.) (Dehlin et al., 2013; Huppert, Siev, & Kushner, 2007). Because SC manifests so differently from “typical” OCD, the individual, as well as members of the faith community, may not recognize their so-called spiritual struggles are actually OCD. Consequentially, scrupulous individuals are more likely to consult members of clergy to relieve their obsessional distress. This can be problematic since clergy are often unaware of how their position and authority may reinforce scrupulous symptoms by providing temporary reassurance that neutralizes obsessions (Huppert et al., 2007; Pirutinsky, Rosmarin, & Pargament, 2009). Thus, this interview-based study explores the unique challenges and subjective experiences of Christian college students with SC-OCD. We sought to dispel common misconceptions about what it means to have OCD and to better understand how SC differs from healthy spirituality. We interviewed 13 individuals with diagnosed OCD (Males = 3, Females = 10). The results indicate three main themes among participants: persistent impeded spiritual functioning, significant suffering and hopelessness, and worsening symptoms as the result of inappropriate advice from Christians unfamiliar with SC-OCD.
Faculty Sponsor or Advisor’s Name
Ruth Markham
Campus Venue
Stevens Student Center
Cedarville, OH
Start Date
4-1-2015 11:00 AM
End Date
4-1-2015 2:00 PM

Best Poster Presentation in Category 2: Correlational Studies

Creative Commons License
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0
Citation Information
Ruth Lowrie Markham, Lynley G. Turkelson, Kari E. Barnhill and Sarah R. Denen. ""That's So OCD!": A Qualitative Study Revealing Common Misconceptions About Christianity and OCD" (2015)
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