In this episode, I discuss a sub-type of intrusive thoughts commonly known as scrupulosity. Scrupulosity is a form of OCD & Anxiety where the person becomes focused on religious or moral issues. In this first part of this series, I discuss specific intrusive thoughts related to fears about hell, the devil, and going to hell. I also discuss different compulsions people engage in and a few very important steps in the treatment process.
alright hey there everyone and welcome to this episode where we're gonna talk about religious obsessive thoughts okay so my name is Matt kotti and I'm a licensed clinical social worker and I'm the founder of restored minds and again on this episode what I wanted to do is you know we're in this series on intrusive thoughts right and so I wanted to kind of break down the the three main sub categories and then talk about specific thoughts within those subcategories and so on today's episode we're gonna start talking about religious intrusive thoughts or religious obsessive thoughts and I wanted to share you know some of not only kind of a little bit about my own struggle with them in the past but you know basically how some some key distinction was when we're talking about treating people who have these kind of thoughts okay so the first the first and foremost is I want to talk about the types of thought work so we're talking about today and and those are gonna be this idea about Hell or demons right because that seems to be a big kind of subcategory of religious thoughts and it's this idea of like you know people will come in when well what if I go to hell or you know what if I get possessed and I wanted to talk about this because this was a specific obsession that I had when I was really um when I was really stuck in OCD you know many years ago is I had this thought well you know what if I get possessed by a demon and then I would do all these again these reinforcing compulsive behaviors like I would go that I would I would do things like praying right you know I always pray okay look please don't keep us s please don't give us this you know or and I would do it at night right and then I'd have these certain routines that I'd have to do and then I'd do things like you know read the Bible and you know things like that and then I'd also call and get reassurance and so I had like you know specific people that I you know that I liked pastors and people in my family that were religious and and I would call them to get reassurance right so those were some of the major compulsions I did right and it's important because we need to under that will it'll come back to play and in just
a little few minutes when I kind of tie this all together but it's important to understand that when we look at the idea of religious obsessions or religious intrusive thoughts the most important thing is to realize that the content of the thought is never the issue okay and so when I say that let me let me kind of break that down for a second so when you're dealing with anxiety or OCD or intrusive thoughts it's not even throw a name on it right when you're having these thoughts pop in your head right that you realize they're kind of like invading that you don't you're you're consciously aware of them and you don't like their presence right what's important to understand is well every time that I've worked with someone with these thoughts you know whatever the thought is is never the actual issue okay and so that the content and the thought I mean so whether it's the thought of what if I go to hell or you know what if I hurt someone in my family on accident what if I accidentally ran some over in my car and you know if we move into the sexual intrusive thoughts you know what if this what if that what if that right all the what if thoughts right again like in the back to the initial analogy I talked about with the fisherman right all those what-if thoughts are the lures right that are that are tossed out and the way you don't get way don't get caught is you don't take the bait and when you have those what-if thoughts and you're really caught in that content it's like you have these goggles on right and when you really get caught in that loop whether it's a religious theme whether it's a harmful theme sexual theme it doesn't matter when you're really caught in that loop what happens is that's like it starts to you get that lens of OCD that I talked about where it's like it distorts everything you see so if you're obsessing about the you know religious theme like hell or the devil or getting possessed what happens is you start to see that everywhere right or people will like you'll hear people mention it more in conversations because you're just gonna be very hyper aware to that that idea right or that thought and but the thing is it's no different than someone who has contaminación OCD and in the same way when someone comes in you know and
they're like well you know I'm afraid of contamination I might get AIDS or all that it's it's not that it's not an AIDS issue right it's not a germ issue it's not a contamination into it it's an anxiety issue right it's a it's an intrusive thought and anxiety and a compulsive behavior issue right it's that loop right and really the same exact thing holds true when it comes to these religious obsessions especially around you know Hell or demons or the devil now you know base you know based on your specific religion and your beliefs those things you know you may believe those things to be true you know and full disclosure um you know I was raised Christian I still identify as a Christian and I still a practicing Christian and but but it's what what we need to understand and this is what I had to understand in my own treatment right because I kept doing all these things to try to negate you know fight against the fear right all those compulsions and what we need to understand is that these intrusive thoughts aren't a religious issue right we need to separate and identify what the real issue is and it's easy for us to get caught up and think that the content of the thought is the issue meaning like if the thought is that oh my gosh you know I what if I get AIDS but it's a it's an AIDS problem right so people will go and they'll get tested for AIDS again and again and again and the test will be negative each time but the problem is ooh it was never an AIDS issue in the first place right and likewise when it comes to these religious intrusive thoughts they they aren't it's not a religious problem right it's not a problem of Hell or demons and and what we what we do ultimately with the treatment instead of reassuring and doing all the things to try to get rid of these thoughts is we have to do the exposure and response prevention to these thoughts right we have to experience the thoughts and then prevent all our compulsive behaviors because what happens is is ultimately that allows the anxiety to go down right and we can habituate to the to the presence of the thought right and when we are able to remove the anxiety out of
that situation right with prolonged exposure what happens is is that kind of that lens comes off a little bit right and so we can make a separation from the thoughts right and it's not the the goal of you know treating these thoughts is not to get this concrete answer because that's that's the trap that everyone falls in right they come in well I need to know for sure that X Y Z right fill in the blank and the thing is is that you we can't we can't pursue certainty because that's a trap that keeps that loop going right and when we when we keep that loop going we feed it and then it gets worse and worse and worse and worse and worse and that's why I like when we when we talked about this idea of religious obsessions is so it's so important like I wanted to talk about it because I get a lot of requests about it but again it's it's so important to realize that the content of the obsession is not is not relevant to the problem okay because the problem is again that the thoughts are popping up you're reacting to them and you're treating them like you're they're a real threat so your brain keeps producing them all right I mean like that's that's what happens right it's like your brain just keeps populating the thoughts because you react to them and because you do compulsions so your brain is learning that these thoughts are dangerous so it's trying to help you and it keeps putting out these thoughts and into your consciousness right and and so the more and more we fight against the thoughts and and try to you know I need to be certain I need to be certain I need to be certain the worse and worse and worse it gets right and so like I said I went on this this path for months where I was just like laying in bed oh my gosh what if I get possessed what if I get possessed and I'd pray and pray and pray and I would avoid shows I would avoid movies right and and so how how I eventually broke out of that loop was again removing the compulsions that I did and realizing that it wasn't a possession problem it wasn't a hell problem it was an OCD anxiety problem that I was dealing with and making that distinction then then put you on the
path on how to actually combat it if that makes sense it's like you're what's what's what's the the biggest misdirection play that OCD and anxiety does is it gets you to focus on something and tells you that that is the problem right but the reality is is the fact that you're focusing on it and listening to the anxiety and OCD is actually the problem right it's a misdirection almost so hopefully that that makes sense when it comes to those specific thoughts on Hell and in possession and I and you know I speak into this because it's like it's something that I have experienced personally and again I've worked with a lot of people that have these as well and in really making that distinction of what the real problem is is is a crucial step in in the recovery process so again hopefully you found this episode helpful and again it would really help us out if you'd give us a like and subscribe in the notes below we have some links to some free resources to help you on your journey to recovery if this is something that you're dealing with and so please go ahead and click down there to claim those again they're yours yours totally free and again you know we always just appreciate you supporting the channel by giving us a you know subscribe and follow and commenting below you know for any ideas and any questions you have for further episodes so again thank you so much for taking the time to tune in and and be with us this week and we look forward to continuing on this series in the next week where we're gonna talk about weird intrusive thoughts when it comes to God and the kind of or more existential thoughts so we're gonna continue on with this series and then we're going to move on to different types of intrusive thoughts as we move forward so I'll see you guys soon and